Send Up A Smoke Signal

First: the next few days are going to be spotty because of the holidays and family obligations and such. And if you’re saying “How spotty can it be, boss? Because it’s not been all that reliable around here for the last couple of months?”

Very spotty. Which is okay, as I imagine it will be spotty for a bunch of you next couple of weeks, too. I’ll try to post every day, because– well, I’ll explain. But the hours might be very weird.

Anyway, getting to the explanation. Yesterday was one of those days when everything went wrong. Now it was mostly MINOR things, like the shower door not closing properly, and then the handle kept falling off, and I put it back on, and it fell off, and– But there was also major “this is gonna cost us money” things which I’m not even ready to talk about YET, and which came about without our even realizing.

And then in the evening, after an entire day of being away from online, partly because we got the replacement laptop and were setting it up, partly because everything took ten times as long as it should, I logged into the chat with the (smallish) group who have become my extended family over the last five years, and I found that someone not a part of it but definitely a friend had died, and had died in circumstances that most of us have a horror even thinking about.

Prepare yourself if you read indie SF.

This was someone I knew from a seminar, a friend of a friend who went indie after a lifetime of trying to publish trad, and did spectacularly well. The entire time I’ve known him (8? years now) he was semi-shocked/delighted at how well he was doing in writing. He commented here a few times, and I’m actually hitting myself that I don’t remember when the last time was.

Curiously, just about a month ago, I thought, “He lives alone, doesn’t he? I wonder how he is doing.” It was already too late.

Doug Dandrige, Brother To Cats, a gentle soul and an amazing writer has died sometime in the last few months , alone in his house with his cats, and no one knew. It was only yesterday that family members broke into the house. And please say a prayer for his family too, because that can’t be easy. It’s the sort of horror we wish never to face.

And I feel guilty and stupid and angry at myself that I didn’t notice him slipping away from our circles. But he’d been depressed and blocked, as a lot of us are, and there is a tendency to go and hide, particularly for our kind, like wounded cats or something. We emotionally can’t even engage.

Part of it, of course, was the new FB User Interface, who I swear only shows me statuses of people I don’t care about, having forced me almost exclusively into my smaller groups. Beyond the fact that it takes so long to do anything, I’ve been going there less and less and less.

And part is this incredibly unnatural way we’re living. While Doug lived alone, we would have noticed if he hadn’t showed up at LC, and someone would have reached out. Perhaps — I don’t know when he died — in time to save his cats.

I don’t know and I don’t think anyone will till the Post Mortem, how he died. I’m 99% sure it wasn’t suicide, but only because he wouldn’t do that to his cats.

I have a vague memory he had a bad heart, but I have a bad memory for that sort of thing, unless I’m actually talking to people, when the file opens up and it all comes out. At any rate, over the last month I’ve lost six people in my extended and fringe sets (fringe being people I only see/talk to at cons) to heart attacks and strokes. Must be the ridiculous stress we are all under, honest.

And in any case, and probably stupid, I keep feeling he’d still be with us if everything had been normal, and we’d been bumping along in the normal way of normal life. More importantly I’m sure he’d have been found well before MONTHS had passed.

This is heart-wrenching to any cat owner, particularly those of us who are responsible. I would hate for my death to mean death for the fuzzies. And it if it did, I’d rather it came cleanly, with a shot at the vet or humane society, rather than slowly starving to death, feeling the world had betrayed them.

Anyway this hits way too close to home, because in the last months of covidiocy I’ve become aware that I’m losing touch, I’m losing my sense of where everyone is, in my groups, in the commenters here (ya’ll have been too “absent” for long periods for me to know if it’s something serious or just the lack of spoons that’s also affecting me.) Normally I keep an eye out. The only reason I’m not frantic over CACS for instance, is that I know RES would tell me if something is wrong. I did have a strange worrying dream about Emily, so I hope she’s keeping track of her meds and stuff (though she commented here the day after the dream, so….)

So, this is what I want to say: Sure, we’re resisting (wait till I do the om symbol in starts and stripes!) and we’re trying to minimize the money we send to left people and institutions, because it needs to be done. They’ve been doing it for decades, and it’s why they have the advantage they have. It’s time to fight back.

But it’s also important to support the good. Back in May I had a post about keeping the good restaurants going, with no regard to the political color of those running it. I’m not as ecumenical now. As much as it hurts me, personally, I’m cutting out discretionary spending to the people who want to hurt people, take their stuff, and rule them with a boot on their face. Even if they’re just useful idiots, who are supporting it because it’s “cool” and “the smart thing to do.” Don’t care.

But at the same time I’m going out of my way to support the good people who are decent human beings, who are lovers of freedom, who are suffering through this, and particularly who are good at whatever they do.

When I have to buy on Amazon, I’ve started assuming it’s worth it to pay twice as much, if not made in China, for instance. And if I know we have a crafter (we do, my friend Wayne Blackburn, who does wood things, and my friend Jonna who does fabric thingies, and — I probably should have a day for people to advertise their non-book stuff, soon.) who is a liberty lover, I’ll buy from them first, (provided their stuff is good. Don’t reward crap. It doesn’t help anything. To a certain extent the left fell into that trap.) and the same with books and drawing and covers, of course.

I confess it’s part of the reason I started doing the promo post, and it’s self selecting because hard core lefties don’t want me to promo them, when I or people ask.

I’m trying as hard as I can, and knowing there’s at least a couple of harder and harder years ahead (sorry guys, it’s obvious, now look at how much money the “stimulus” package is blowing and to whom it’s going. It’s vezenuelization at speed. If we’re good Americans it will be SHORT.) to create, build and positively help people, instead of just passively. It’s going not very well and SLOW because I’m working against my own endless depression, tiredness, fear and heartsickness over what I see coming, but I’m doing something positive, as well as something negative. Meaning trying to support, not just take revenge.

And if you can’t support physically or monetarily, try to support remotely with your presence. Check on people, particularly those of us who live alone, but even people who live with just one person, and who don’t have a support network nearby.

And if you live alone or are just you and a spouse, make sure you have someone check on your regularly. Preferably more than one person.

No, you’re not safe if there’s two of you. Particularly not if you’re my age or older. A couple of years ago, we had a situation where my MIL collapsed, my FIL tried to lift her and had a heart even, and they were just lucky my SIL went by within an hour, unexpectedly, or they and the doggies would have been gonners. This stuff happens.

It’s okay if your check in is remote, if the person has instructions on someone local to call/activate if you don’t answer for say 24 hours.

And this is why, btw, I have a chat program with my remote extended family. I check in every day, either morning or evening. (Though there are three people living in this house, and one is young.)

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A NETWORK. And for your own sanity, I encourage you to have a chat with a group, small or large, and stay on it.

I know it’s hard, but just saying “hi, I’m okay” is a good thing for you and the other person. It lessens the stress and the isolation.

When this insanity started, in addition to the extended fam, I had three people on my Skype I texted with daily.

Since the election, I haven’t heard from one at all (and I’m worried. Yes, she’s alive, but I’m worried she’s mad at me, though it makes absolutely no sense.) and the others I hear from very sporadically, because we’re all mad as hell, and it’s hard to talk when you have no spoons. We need to stop that shit.

It’s instinctive to go somewhere, and pull the world in after you. It’s also deadly. Take my cat, Pixie, of blessed memory, who got hit by truck and crawled in our garage to die. He had multiple cranial fractures, stuff wrong with his spine, and internal injuries.

When he didn’t show up to eat, I was worried, and kept going to the front porch to call him. He crawled out of the garage, at my voice. It took him half the day to make it up the steps, and to the front porch, leaving a trail of blood, but when I saw him, we dropped everything and spent the 10k we’d saved to buy me a car (we were a one-car family, which meant I was stuck at home when Dan was at work.) to save his life. He spent 3 weeks in ICU and we’d have given up except he OBVIOUSLY didn’t want to. He went on to live another 13 years, and help us raise the boys. So, you know. But it would never have happened if he hadn’t responded to my voice, as painful and hard and “feels like dying” as that must have been.

BE LIKE PIXIE. If you’re in trouble, send up a smoke signal.

IN the fam we’ve already dealt with one person trying to hide and die without bothering anyone. Don’t do that. We need you. I don’t care how old/infirm/useless you think you are. You’re a part of our community, and just by being here, you give us courage and strength.

Create a network. Create Checkpoints. And if you’re in trouble, send up a smoke signal.

And if you’re a praying person, send up a prayer for Doug, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and a great writer. I’m so sorry, my friend. When we meet again, I’m going to apologize SO MUCH.

And you, yes, you out there don’t break my heart. Yes, we’re heading into terrible times. Yes, the fight is already engaged and it is evil and rips your guts out in many metaphorical ways. Yes, we’re in big big trouble.

But it would be much worse alone. I value everyone of you and I do not want to lose you. Stay in touch, stay connected, work as you can, create alternate streams of income — remember, belt and suspenders — keep your weapons and clothes where you can find them in the dark. Have a plan Z and a bugout route AND if you get in trouble, if you’re going under, even if it’s just “psychological” or “I don’t feel so good” SEND UP A SIGNAL. Let us help you. It might be nothing. Or it might be everything.

Stay with us. Fighting alone sucks. You’re needed.

327 thoughts on “Send Up A Smoke Signal

    1. Booyah, baby, I saw this too!

      I was encouraged to watch American citizens push their way past pepper spraying cops to force their way into “our building,” as one Patriot said.

        1. Watch how aggressively prosecutors go after them as compared to the violent BLM/Antifa mobs who are routinely let go without charges, even after documented assaults, arson and looting.

          1. Unfortunately for them we have reached the stage where attempting to make an example is no longer a deterrent. It just makes people more angry.

            1. Yeah, and busting into the building to make damn sure they will listen for a change is about half a step from dragging forth the tone-deaf to become decorative effects on the nearest tree.

            2. Making an example of folk is a trick that works both ways.

              The public has tried voting miscreants out of office, has doe recalls, and has made it clear we can see them dealing from the bottom of the political deck (i.e, disparate treatment of “their” friendly neighborhood “peaceful” protests and our peaceful protests) — if they keep pushing like this they’re going to leave us very few options for conveying our disapproval of their policies.

      1. I’m not persuaded of any significant changes.

        I’m not just a contrarian halfwit; I’ve also had my head under a rock all day. 😛

      2. Yes. I see the sea change as well. This is Oregon. And because we’re wired in a certain way, we all feel more courageous after watching this.

        Also note the cops pepper sprayed citizens to keep them out of the building.

    2. If Twatter doesn’t nuke this, you too can see the red curtain of blood.

      I’m coming to the conclusion that (with yet another 60 day extension of the “emergency” by Despicable Kate Brown) that the only way this will end in Oregon is with some politicians and LEO brass doing the (lamp)pole dance. Yeah, red and splotchy indeed.

      1. Welcome to the double standard ROE I predicted.

        Just remember, they only have so many MRAPS….. and each and every one of the politicians involved should feel like they need one at their home.

        1. I miss you Sarah! I missed LibertyCon. How far is CO from N TX? In case you need a vacation from paste eating Polis. Even Nemo misses you!

      2. Yes. Police who do the bidding of tyrants belong in the enemy camp. They pepper sprayed citizens trying to enter a building. What will they *not* do?

      3. That things haven’t already gone red and splotchy is another piece of evidence for Heinlein’s “An armed society is a polite society.”

        There are an awful (in both the antique and modern sense) lot of guns out there, with sales of even more guns & ammo being… brisk. The Democrats are betting it all on their being able to muddle, finesse, and keep those guns from being used. I’m suffering both a sick feeling that they’re right and a terrifying hope that they’re wrong.

        (As usual, I’ll add my gloss that it isn’t an armed society unless the young women and old men have guns too.)

    3. Not related? Oh, YES it’s related in ways you can’t even imagine, I suspect. This is all pushing us to the edge…just so some rich/politically connected *ssholes can control it all…own it all.

  1. Smoke signal? Does a pyre of one’s enemies require an EPA permit?

    Asking for aa friend.

    Saddened by news of Doug. Damn you, 2020!

      1. As I told a friend, 2020 needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history, then dropped into the deepest oceanic trench available. Because Mt. Doom ain’t hot enough to dispose of this [CENSORED].

          1. Feels like 2020 is the year that told 2016 to “hold my beer.” I like Trump as president, but there’s no denying that his election years have been rough.

          1. I think I offended a receptionist yesterday… She asked if I thought the next year would be better and I honestly told her I expect it to be worse. Oops. But we haven’t seen the inflation due. The inauguration hasn’t happened. The MSM and Dims are still bleating about “Coronavirus” and strangling livelihoods, while happily planning how to reeducate the deplorables. The credit card has definitely been charged in this country and we haven’t begun to pay it off.

            When we move back to paper ballots, I vote that the purple finger be the middle one.

            1. To just mention you are worried about inflation from all the spending, should just be a warning to make them think. If you focus on worry about inflation, you are supporting “worry”. So how can they object?

            1. As I keep saying, my life was stupid and pokey. My greatest outing was going to a museum or the zoo on Saturday after cleaning the house, then church, then dinner. I mean, I got all dressed up for it, and everything. It was LAME.
              BUT IT WAS MINE AND OMG I WANT IT BACK. I want Denver back, too. It wasn’t in the least glitzy and I did nothing great there, but I went to diners, and ethnic restaurants, and museums, and IT WAS SAFE and there weren’t methheads on every sidewalk.

              1. Yet though it may have seemed “stupid and pokey” then, or even been so from an ungenerous-enough viewpoint — it was simple, normal, ordinary life.

                Glorious as a field of wildflowers blooming happily in springtime.

                The kind of life that free, creative, unafraid people naturally make. By and for themselves. And the kind of life the covidiocy, the covidiocracy, and the Big Steal have stolen or are trying still to take away.

                And that’s simply abuse. On a scale and to a depth I can scarce express.

                Yes, we may be pushed to an extraordinary life, or even worse, a heroic one.

                But those who’d do that, unless Divine in wisdom and subtlety — would happily pull the wings off flies, all day long for fun, and by the million. True evil, that.

                They have much to answer for. And some of us already have a very deep and merry motivation to be an instrument of any such purpose, as best we may.

            2. The ‘old normal’ ain’t coming back. Either the Democrat Panjandrums get away in the long run with stealing the election (not too likely, but possible), or there is going to be hell busting out all over. When THAT is settled out, somewhat, the Democrats are going to be in a deep hole. And given who they are and how they ‘think’, they are likely to keep digging. With a little luck, some less crazy Democrats will start to fight to take over their party, the way that non-supine Republicans have been trying to take over the Republican party. That won’t be quick. Nothing in our system of government is quick (that’s a feature, not a bug).

              But the old normal was the Democrats cheating somewhat less blatantly, and the Republicans slowly shifting toward fighting back. That isn’t coming back any time soon, and good riddance.

          1. Apparently Forbes just ran a piece advocating that the “lifestyle changes:” that have been imposed through diktat by claiming that they are “necessary for public health” be continued even after the CCP Virus is dealt with in order to “combat the climate crisis”.

            I have no doubt Malcolm S. Forbes, Sr., is spinning in his grave at what the publication that bears his name has become.

            Meanwhile lefty “mainstream” rag The Nataion is advocating “electoral reparations” in which votes by blacks would count twice. Considering people to have greater rights and worth than others is okay for them as long as it is the “right” groups who are treated more equally than others.

            Harris/Biden rule by decree will be bad enough with this kind of nonsense. If they steal Georgia and can pack the Supreme Court, etc., its all over and the only question is what follows the republic.

              1. Not f’ing ever. Not ever. You aren’t alone in this.

                I’m to the point where I think I could kill someone if they tried to force me to slave diaper or vaccinate.

            1. Give credit where due: they don’t think small.

              How Joe Biden can act boldly to address the climate crisis
              Opinion by Jeff Merkley
              Dec. 21, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EST
              Add to list

              Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, represents Oregon in the U.S. Senate.

              This September, as Oregon wildfires raged, I drove more than 600 miles up and down our state and never once broke free from a thick cloud of hazardous smoke. I saw towns that had been completely incinerated. I heard the heartbreak, fear and frustration of Oregonians who fled their homes to save their lives. Some of them lost everything.

              The record-setting fires are just one example of the climate emergency. We set a record for named storms in the Atlantic and tropical cyclones making landfall in the United States, and this year will likely end up being the hottest on record — making the past five years officially the hottest five on record. Rising sea levels are already displacing coastal communities, pollution is making air dangerous to breathe, crops are failing, pests are multiplying and species are going extinct.

              Too many Americans are experiencing the wrath of climate-related disasters firsthand. These disasters are killing our citizens, bankrupting businesses, endangering our national security, and threatening to leave our children a world of growing scarcity and conflict. President-elect Joe Biden said this past weekend that we need to meet climate chaos with “the urgency it demands, as we would during any national emergency.” He is absolutely right, and he should use every tool available to him, including declaring a national climate emergency and using emergency powers to take unilateral executive action.


              Our ability to take on the climate crisis through legislation will be challenged by the realities of the Senate. If Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) emerges as the majority leader following the runoff elections in Georgia, no serious climate bill will ever get a hearing in committee, much less get to the Oval Office. And even if Democrats win the Senate, passing adequately ambitious legislation will be a struggle with such a razor-thin margin and the need for filibuster reform.

              But we cannot wait. We need bold executive action that treats this crisis — quite literally — as the emergency it is.

              The National Emergencies Act (NEA) and the Defense Production Act (DPA) give the president broad powers to act in the national interest during grave national emergencies. While President Barack Obama used the DPA to purchase green transportation fuels, neither of these acts has been fully used to address the climate emergency.

              Declaring the climate crisis a national emergency under the NEA would not only send a powerful signal about the urgency of bold action, it would unlock powers that allow our nation to take significant, concrete actions regardless of congressional gridlock. Examples include redirecting spending to build out renewable energy systems, implementing large-scale clean transportation solutions and financing distributed energy projects to boost climate resiliency — all of which would help safeguard our communities and slash harmful pollution.

              Invoking the DPA would complement a national emergency declaration and help address the national security threats posed by our climate crisis. These powers would allow the Biden administration to take essential steps toward strengthening our emergency preparedness, such as constructing resilient energy infrastructure and mobilizing domestic industry to ramp up manufacturing of clean energy technologies. These are necessary steps to protect Americans from the deluge of violent storms and extreme weather events that are on the horizon. Plus, spawning a robust clean energy industry could generate millions of high-quality American jobs vital to rejuvenating our post-covid economy.


              I understand that many people may still feel trepidation about using these powers to address the climate crisis. However, we know that continuing on our current path will be catastrophic, and will hit working people the hardest. On the other hand, if we put in place the right policies, we can create millions of new jobs re-powering the country and cleaning our air.

              And let’s not forget that millions of Americans voted for Biden because he promised climate action. Those voters will be demoralized and disillusioned in future elections if we sacrifice their health, livelihoods and futures to prop up fossil fuels. Substantively and politically, we cannot afford to be passive in the face of this crisis.

              The climate crisis is one of the biggest emergencies that our country has ever faced, and our time is running out. Americans are counting on Biden to lead accordingly. Let’s act boldly, and treat this crisis like the emergency it is.

              1. Proving once again that the CCP Virus lockdowns and rule by decree are simply a test run for the seizure of absolute total power under the pretext of climate.

              2. Step 1: Take away Jeff Merkley’s cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and other fossil fueled modes of transportation.
                Step 2: No more deliveries of fossil fuels of any kind to Jeff Merkley’s home or office.
                Step 3: Jeff Merkley only gets to power, light, heat or cool his home or offices with non-fossil fuel sourced means.
                Step 4: Jeff Merkley is not allowed to shop or do business with anyone who uses fossil fuels to run their businesses or get their merchandise.

                These Greenies are too stupid to understand the intricate and fragile web that runs our entire technological civilization. They never see the big picture.

                1. And remove all synthetic fibers (fleece, polyester, Nylon, Vibram soles on his shoes) from his closet, because oil = blood or something like that.

            2. Someone should point out to The Nation that blacks seem to be reverting back to the Republican Party in increasing numbers. That would put a stop to that idea real quick.

            3. >> “Apparently Forbes just ran a piece advocating that the “lifestyle changes:” that have been imposed through diktat by claiming that they are “necessary for public health” be continued even after the CCP Virus is dealt with in order to “combat the climate crisis”.”

              Do you have a link to this?

        1. Into the SUN. In a trench means it can lurk and metastate into nastier and come back to haunt us.

        2. I’m no enthusiast for 2020 but we should not ignore there were some positive moments. We broke the previous record for vaccine development, shaving 80% off the required time from identification of the disease until the broad distribution of a vaccine.

          That’s a good thing.

          Then there is SpaceX and its rockets that take off and land in the way G-D and Robert Heinlei said they should.

          I think we can all endorse that.

          The FDA finally ended its regulation of Frozen Cherry Pie

    1. You are having a PYRE for your Enemies and you are NOT inviting the EPA???????
      I find that hard to BELIEVE!!! They should be among the Guests of Honor. You can’t leave them out, they would be miffed at being left out.

      1. A pyre seems a bit wasteful. Composting. That’s the ticket.

        Mrs. Hoyt, I am so sorry for your loss and the terrible news you got. May it be that your friend and all *his* furred friends have found their summer door.

        And if you are alone and have pets, make friends with your local beat cop. Even if it doesn’t save you… That’s how we got one of our pups.

          1. Additionally, composting gives their souls the impression you want them to linger about, while a pyre directs them to their proper destination.

  2. Alive?

    I’ll have to ask my Beagle Lilly if I’m alive. [Crazy Grin]

    Take Care Everybody.

    1. More seriously, my sister has been insisting on contacting me monthly on Messenger for some time wanting to know if Lilly and I are alright.

      After I read Sarah’s post, I sent her an “everything is OK” message.

      1. Drak, if you didn’t comment regularly on my various posts, I’d be checking in with you however I could. ((hugs)) We have known each other for how long now? I’d miss you.

      2. I’m calling Mom every week, even though she’s living with $ELDER_BROTHER (family commentary redacted). At 97 she’s still managed to avoid the CCPvirus-no idea how, since other in the family out of that household caught it. OTOH, her reaction to the lockdowns is pretty much “You can’t wet a river”. Yet another frustration that she’s dealing with. Long list of frustrations because reasons.

        Our 16 year old Sara (the Aussie-Lab) is relearning to be an only dog after we lost the 13 year old Border Collie. I had to go into town to do shopping today, and $SPOUSE says Sara kept looking at the barn, because that where Dad goes and he needs to be back Right Away. No way we can let her stay in the house alone for any length of time now. OTOH, $SPOUSE hates wearing masks even more than I do, so the market day runs are my job. She keeps the house running and gives Sara extra love when I’m gone. No idea how long Sara will last, either. No pain for her though, yay!!!!!!!!!

        FWIW, local larger stores are getting more casual at ignoring maskless people, or “wearing” a mask as a neck warmer. The Kroger affiliate was really busy, enough so that any Karens were outnumbered. Even Home Desperate (not overly busy) was fairly cool about masks. OTOH, we don’t have a Costco in town. I’m positive that they select for Karens in employment.

  3. I saw the events that lead up to the certain knowledge, and like you, I know without a doubt that he would not have wanted his pets to go with him like that. I remember his impish smile when we met in person.

    And like you, there are people I’m going to check on more now. Just because.

  4. “I did have a strange worrying dream about Emily, so I hope she’s keeping track of her meds and stuff (though she commented here the day after the dream, so….)”

    Aren’t you forgetting something, Sarah?

    If she goes, I’ll be gone too. Although you’ll probably find THAT out from the news.

        1. I have to stay around! He’s the best husband. Also to prevent attacks. on those deserving of same. We have spreadsheets and alarms for my meds. Plus Steve asks me if I’ve taken my meds or brings them to me at the right time. Nemo has sensitive ears and is known as our auxiliary alarm system.

          I’m OK. I don’t sleep well and have issues. But our trip to Lake Ray Hubbard was a success.

  5. Oh man. My mom found her best friend that way—thankfully, he didn’t have any pets, and she was the dedicated “check on me” person, so he wasn’t there beyond a couple of days. Prayers for them all.

    1. Back about April, a family friend– old farming couple– lost their son, was found by his brother.

      Guy had a ton of health issues, so even with the sister going utterly ape about isolating …well, everybody… the brother went over to check on him every day.

      He’d apparently sat down after the visit the day before, sat his mug on the desk by him, put the TV remote down, and just fell asleep.

      1. That’s pretty much how a friend went, a few years ago. He had serious health problems and lived by himself. I’d call him a couple of times a day; noon, three o’clock in the morning, it didn’t matter, he hardly ever slept. Sometimes we’d talk for hours, sometimes it was “Hey, are you still alive? Cool, I’m going back to bed.”

        One morning I was waiting for my wife to get ready before we went somewhere, I pushed the speed dial and checked in. He said he was feeling a bit tired and was going to lay down on the couch and take a nap. A neighbor found him later that day, he’d gone to sleep and didn’t wake up. His phone said I was the last incoming call.

        It freaked my wife out, but we’d known for years that he was in bad shape, and for the last few weeks, I always had a twinge if his phone rang more than twice before he picked up.

        I’m still glad I got to talk to him that one last time.

    2. After the Pentagon opened back up this spring, while they were strictly isolating everyone in their offices, a fellow died probably about an hour after lunch– same thing, going of of what was in his office, they found him the next day because his wife didn’t get worried until late at night, and they didn’t think to check work until they’d made sure he hadn’t crashed on the hour long commute home so my brother was one of the Healthy Young Guys who footed it to his office.

      Really rough on everybody else, but at least it’s easy on the one who passes.

      1. One of our church members (a really sweet older gentleman who had a great-grandson who looked just like him) had a heart attack. He survived and about a week after telling us how much he loved us he came to church, spent the day with his grandkids, had his favorite dinner, sat down to watch Hee-Haw, and died. His wife said it was hard on her, but she was glad he had that day.

        1. *Chokes up*

          Sounds like Uncle Jack. (note: not an uncle)

          Did a big train ride– they LOVED train rides– to the big (multi-day) family Christmas party, saw everyone, had a total blast, enjoyed the train ride home until it got dark, he and his wife fell asleep, only one woke up at the final stop.

          1. Jerry Pournelle went after Dragoncon, where he actually got HALF the recognition he should have got years ago.
            I hated losing him, but I was glad.
            I think the blessed go that way.

            1. I really wish he was still around because he would have been a great voice about the current insanity.

            2. Dr. Pournelle never did get one-tenth the honors he SHOULD have received. Like the Medal of Freedom, for being one of the roughly two dozen people really responsible for winning the Cold War.

              1. Yes, this.

                The “short” book version of it is called (IIRC) “The Strategy of Technology” (by Pournelle and Stefan Possony and maybe one more) — it’s an interesting read but not, ah, without subtlety. The “long” version… might not ever be known “out here” in the publically-accessible world; but there are good reasons to believe this set of ideas literally won the Cold War and defeated Communism (until it rose again from its unmarked grave to bedevil us once more).

                And then there’s space policy.

                Often these days I wonder what he’d have made of Space-X and the Starship, and wish he could be here and I could read his comments on that.

                Then I fear a potential Biden Regime might decide to put a stop to that, which it could do as easy as “no more FAA approvals” for instance.

                Then I remember his comment, perhaps in one of his “A Step Farther Out” columns, something like no matter what, “sooner or later, someone is going to revive Bang-Bang and get out there” — and whether or not I believe, I know.

                Gifts, that keep on giving…

                [“Bang-Bang” = “Project Orion” (officially) = “Ulam Drive” (to some of my characters) = “nuclear pulse propulsion” (to the unimaginative) = A-bombs blowing a spaceship up and up and up, but never apart, see George Dyson’s nonfiction book — and two of Pournelle’s fiction ones too]

      2. My mother went that way. She had reconciled with her sister after a fair bit of time and the two of them had spent the day at a retreat. They got in the car and my mother said “what a lovely day”
        And.died. No pain, no fear, at peace. I hope I go that way

  6. So Sarah, do you want the regulars, semi-regulars, and occasional commenters to check in here every so often? I’m pretty easy to know is around: if the IRG daily update doesn’t get posted on MeWe or LinkedIn for a few weekdays someone ought to check, but those work as a 5-day-a-week call-out. But for other folks, ought we to post “Still vertical” messages here just to keep folks from worrying?

        1. Hi, Shadow. I’ve followed Sarah (and you, Fox, Res and others) for years. But what is the “spoons” thing to which you (and Sarah) refer?


            I’ve seen some folks refer to it as ’emotional’ or ‘mental’ bandwidth; basically to refer to the fact that they only have limited energy to deal with things. I couldn’t deal with the political hell that is the world right now, because I had to deal with a tube-fed toddler.

            On the good news side though; she is no longer tube fed and has been slowly but steadily gaining weight now.

            1. A guy named Keith Code wrote a book on motorcycle racing. Which is about as highly specialized a subject as you’d expect, but a fair chunk of it is “mindset.” His take is that you only have so much attention you can pay at any given time; you can keep track of A and B, but adding C or D comes at the expense of the amount of attention you can pay to A and B. He describes it as the “Attention Dollar.” Attention is a fixed dollar, all the things competing against each other are cents. It makes more sense the way he describes it.

              But for motorcycle racing, it’s pretty much dead-on. The totality of things happens faster than a human mind can process when you’re playing in traffic at 300 kph; you have to be able to follow the *really* important things instead of just the ordinary important things…

              A very good example is here: That’s the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race, that has been run since 1907. They shut down most of the island for it. It’s run on public highways. Every lap is over 60 kilometers. Over that century they’ve averaged slightly more than one death per race. That kind of thing focuses the attention wonderfully…

            2. Yay yay yay!!!! Thriving and fattening up is good stuff!!

              Actually, Victorians had some very Strong Ideas about how to get kids to put on weight. Some of them are very tasty ideas.

              1. You know what is really good? Malt powder. Make it into malted milk or put it on ice cream. Chocolate malted milk shakes if you have a blender. And if you go to the Indian grocery store, Horlick’s Turmeric Malt powder also makes a tasty tasty milk drink.

                Obviously not good if your kiddos have problems eating malt or grain. But otherwise delicious!

      1. I think you are the only one with my contact info Sarah, via the email included in the stuff that has to be completed to complete posts. I am not in the publishing/literature field and am probably a distinct minority in that regard on this blog.

        1. Actually it doesn’t show me that, Cardshack.
          If you want to email me at first initial second initial hot mail, I can then have it.
          Ad no, even the commenters, who are less than 10% of the readers are only about 1/4 writers. The rest are fans.

                1. You what? Oh, re-sent. 😀

                  Though I couldn’t fault you for resenting some things, just in case. 😛

        2. I’m not in the field either, at all. Don’t feel alone. I just don’t understand some of the conversations about the industry.

          1. Just a reader here, too. Several decades ago, I wrote one page for an after-the-blowup story and realized that as writers go, I’m a pretty fair carpenter/electrician/builder. I’m better at that, and have the patience to get that level of detail. Words, not so much.

    1. Sometimes I’ll not even get a chance to read a post, let alone comment, if day job is hot and heavy – which it has been the opposite of, i.e. “quiet – too quiet” also known as “no billable hours”, since Halloween.

      I doubt, however, that a week goes by with no smart-aleck comments here from me.

  7. Alive, with husband and two children, so that’s good. 😀

    (Surgery recovery (“lumbar laminotomy and discectomy”) is going so-so–I can’t watch the children (4 and a very heavy 1) myself yet and six weeks is a long time for Husband not to be able to leave the house without a babysitter. (We’re almost done week 3.) I keep on overextending to try to fill in the gap… yeah.)

    (But I think if I can get through the next three and a half weeks I’m free and clear, and honestly life is already better than when it hurt to walk. So things are good. Just touch and go. >.>)

    It’s hard to come up with anything productive or interesting to say lately, with the brain overflowing with d00m. (…I’m taking a break from the Gulag Archipelago for this reason too.) But a check-in is a good idea, and I am looking forward to seeing how everyone else is doing 🙂

    And have a Mama Bunny: Sorry for sloppy, I inked before lettering and wound up cutting out the bubbles with an exacto knife >.<

    1. …looking back, I managed to really tone-deaf this one; I didn’t know the particular fellow and glommed onto “check-in! Yes, it’ll be like a big mixer!”*manicmanic*

      I’m sorry about that. And I’m sorry about your friend. I am glad you’ve got people, and I’m glad of the caring I’ve seen among you guys.

      Regarding another small thing in the OP (the man who had a heart attack helping his wife): my husband has a saying–“In an emergency, the first pulse you need to take is your own.” Growing up in farming and construction, I suspect–help isn’t coming for a while, so you need to be sure what you do is effective, even if it means it’s not immediate.

      I dunno if it’ll stick with me when it needs to, but it’s good to remember anyway.

      (Also came up in EHS confined space training. (I was administering paperwork for the dept and got to sit in.) Apparently survival for people who go in to help is less than for the original guy who faints in a confined space? Go fug X_x)

        1. They teach you in first aid to check the scene so you wind up becoming another victim. I screwed up that way once, but got caught by another bystander before I could wander under the leaning telephone pole. (For Caitlin).

      1. For recovery from multilevel spinal work do all the exercises completely . It is the key. I’ve had it. Goo here though with3 cats, one dog and one box turtle.
        Sorry for all the losses.

      2. One bit of wisdom used by pilots is that the first thing to do when things go dramatically wrong is to “wind your watch”. The gist is to take a moment to evaluate and understand the problem before you start reacting to it.

    2. I second the “do the exercises” advice – even if it seem stupid (at least ask, “why am I doing this?”). I had a discectomy when I lost the ability to lift my right foot. There is a really silly exercise (scrunch up your toes as if you’re pulling something toward you) that no one explained and I stopped doing it because it seemed senseless. I shouldn’t have – years later, that’s the only thing that still makes my foot tingle.

  8. Damn. Doug was a good man, good friend, and I could see his writing getting better every time I stopped to look. The writing circle Over There has a new member and we one less friend this side of death.

    Peace be unto you, Doug Dandrige. May your family and friends find solace in memory and example. Back to the mud with you, old man. The earth is richer and we the poorer for it.

  9. situation where my MIL collapsed, my FIL tried to lift her and had a heart even, and they were just lucky my SIL went by within an hour, unexpectedly

    Grandmother in ’87, only she was at her oldest daughter’s for Christmas. Granddaughter found her the morning after Christmas, gone … could have been worse, could have been one of the great-grandchildren there for the holidays, waking up great-grandmother.

    Grandparents in ’05. Collapsed in their remote rural home. Well grandma did. Grandpa really wasn’t mobile on his own, all but blind, and frail. They actually passed away in hospice and living assisted facilities. Only because weeks before TPTB decided grandpa qualified for Life Alert … but grandma didn’t. Life Alert was triggered because grandma didn’t respond to grandpa’s yelling (from his chair).

    My sister’s and I check on mom regularly since dad died, once or twice a week (3 of us so pretty much everyday). Since Covid-19, I make a point of stopping BY everyday (she’s not always there but at least she’s not dead in the house alone), or at least hearing her voice.

    One of the reasons I’m perfectly happy son hasn’t moved out in to his own apartment. Until the someone else living with him that cares if he disappears, or doesn’t show up to work … If he did move out, we’re old enough he’d have to be checking on US regularly …

  10. Just to let you know– I have to see my nurse monthly and I see two doctors a month. It’s just me and the dog, but I do talk to my brother (he’s in Washington State now) about once or twice a week. I’m alone other than that. I do have a brother still in the area… but I lost most of my support this year. I’m so sorry about your friend and his cats.– so sad. Anyway, I also live in a senior apartment complex so if I don’t pay my rent, I’m pretty sure someone will be checking or calling.

  11. My condolences to Doug’s family. What a horrible situation to be in.

    The last few years, I’ve been e-mailing Dad every night, and one of my brothers calls him every day, so we’re all trying to keep connected and updated on each other’s situations. I’ll try to make sure to post more frequently here — things have been strange for the last few days.

    When I was in grade school, one of the older men at our church was earning some extra money working for Dad at harvest time. Dad had him doing some odd jobs over at Grandma’s place when he had a stroke and collapsed. Grandma later told me that she suddenly had this feeling she should go over to the barn and check, and found the man lying on the ground in front of one of the farm trucks. Because she listened to that inner voice, he didn’t die cold and alone on the hard ground, but at least in the hospital with family at hand.

    1. found the man lying on the ground in front of one of the farm trucks. Because she listened to that inner voice, he didn’t die cold and alone on the hard ground, but at least in the hospital with family at hand.

      Great-Aunt found Great-Uncle near the barn. He was long gone. Hadn’t been that long since he’d left the house. Didn’t come in for Lunch. She went looking for him. Heart or stroke, don’t remember now. He was 68.

      My Aunt sat down in her chair, with a cup of coffee beside her, and drifted off. She was found by her son when she wasn’t answering phone calls relatively quickly. No animals. She was 86.

      What’s the quote? “I want to die in my sleep like grandpa, not screaming like his passengers.” 🙂

      1. LOL, that same quote came to mind earlier… a more detailed version:

        I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

        Group of friends of years past could be reliably reduced to jello by that… ironically, one of us did the prematurely die in bed alone thing, and was found by another of us. 😦

        So, me, I normally and preferentially live like a hermit (not unusual to see no one else for a couple months at a time) tho in my retirement digs, I actually can SEE the neighbors, and walk to town in a pinch; it’s embarrassing.

  12. I’ve been comparatively quiet because of Day Job, and trying to fend off anxiety in order to get L-Familiar done, and the print books started. Spring is the crazy-at-Day-Job semester, because my admin load more than doubles. So if I go low profile here, that’s probably what’s devouring my time, energy, and attention.

  13. Hey, all. I’m sorry about your friend. He sounds like one of the good ones.

    I’m in a good place. Family lives with us, particularly the ones who are most vulnerable right now. My wife talks to her married sister almost daily. My parents live very close to my sisters in OH and they see each other regularly. My brother is the only one who isn’t near us, but I think he has a roommate. I have a few people I check on, but we’re surviving.

  14. As an aside re smoke, one of the recommendations from folks who have direct personal experience in these things is to buy some smoke grenades (colored is fine, orange as per the photo up top is available) as an aid in breaking contact with any pitchfork-wielding mobs you might happen upon when out and about in the crazy years – see for civilian offerings that meet or exceed what the mil smoke devices deliver.

    1. Though clicking through now and looking at what is available it appears these folks are seeing high demand, with lots of colors out of stock.

      Searching around I’m seeing there are other vendors.

      1. And searching further I ran across some advice from a LEO to use white smoke because it appears similar to the crowd dispersal agents that LE uses, and so might have more of a deterrent effect than colored stuff that is obviously just smoke.

        I still think suddenly vanishing in a cloud of that purple smoke would look very cool, but practicality intervenes to spoil the fun once again.

  15. Sarah, sorry about your friend. My condolences.

    This is a good reminder for me. Five days a week my Day Job requires me to be on-line, so someone will notice after a day or two if I am missing. I usually read here, but don’t comment.

    I need backup for weekends and vacation. I’m in my late 60’s and not in very good health. The damn Covid has left me with nerve damage in my left hand, so it is harder to type than it used to be. Eventually, I’ve got to retire.

  16. I’ve been throttling politics – even skipping commenting here – in order to maintain sanity. Because Day Job is, ah, more stressful than normal. If you don’t see me here, as long as I keep posting at Mad Genius Club, I’m alive. But yeah, I’m pretty well off facebook now, between the new interface and the constant censorship. Which does mean I don’t get to see a lot of people anymore.

    It’s been a hard year.

    This year, clients have gone from not even noticing that I answer the phone cheerfully to happy I answer the phone cheerfully to… literally startled that I answer the phone cheerfully.
    Now, I answer the phone cheerfully precisely because I am usually dealing with highly stressed people who are dealing with a situation likely to make them panic (if they aren’t already panicking), and my cheerful calm encourages them to panic less and think more. I’m quite literally being paid to be the calming voice that tells you either “You can do this. You’ll be fine.”

    I am, in fact, usually tired and stressed and making an effort to not make others more so. But that said, the number of people who’ve been very startled – and reacting oddly to a cheerful, calming voice telling them it’s going to be all right, we can fix this – is putting the hairs up on the back of my neck.

    1. Yeah, I was just thinking through some of the signals I’ve collected lately, and coming up with ‘times are odd’.

      Real hard to call things.

    2. I’m grateful for people like you. I have a job (receptionist at a tax office) where I need to do that, but it’s really hard. I’m going to be petitioning on High for help with that.

      1. While we have vastly different job titles and areas of responsibilities, you and I, we’re both dealing with people with deadlines, stressful things in their lives, and the code of federal regulations. You have ALL my sympathies.

        (And it doesn’t help when we put a lot of effort into making a guide, and then goes and breaks all their internal links. You’re a bloody government website dedicated to displaying the sodding federal regs. Why did you move that page with that reg, when the reg hasn’t changed?)

        1. I’m contemplating a blog post/rant about “left hand, right hand, and .gov.” The “clarification” on AR-15 pistols last week reminded me of an FAA “clarification” that . . . didn’t.

          1. Channeling Hodgkins of Bones here: I think that the lack of clarity in the pistol regulations is quite intentional. I’m seeing the same [long list of adjectives redacted] er, stuff out of the Oregon CCPvirus regulations and edicts From On High.

            “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”

            1. Hodgkins level conspiracy theory is not necessary here – all it requires is Congressional Cowardice: inability to find majority agreement on definitions results in leaving it to be determined by regulatory agency (or court.)

          2. I saw a definition years ago that sums it up all too well…

            Clarfiy: To fill in the background with so much that it forces the foreground to go underground.

        2. Oh, yes.
          It doesn’t help that my husband is senior preparer. A lot of my problem is feeling the strain between wanting to protect him and wanting to help the client.

          1. The end result of entropy is that energy is uniformly distributed, and no work is possible. I’m just getting a head start on it! 😀

          2. “Wonderful” (sarc), example here in Mordor (Santa Clara County). of “doing something”. A local library was doing outdoor pickup, so us addicts could get our book fix. Since people are supposed to “stay home” now, they shut down the outside pick-up, a classic example of “doing something”, the paradox of this: Doing something is doing nothing.

            To share some ideas for blessing others: When people ask me how I am, I say “Joyful”. It impacts people. A bank teller told me she loved asking how I was, just to hear “Joyful”. It is a simple thing. Also a way to connect with fellow followers of The Way, since knowing Joy is a secret sign of knowing “I AM”. I have a Jack in the Box “Joy” radio antenna ball, so I tell people: “Joy follows me wherever I go”.

            I have 3 goals: First: Make people think. Second: Everyone I meet is made more joyful. Third: Reflect God perfectly to everyone i meet. (This means bless those who need to be blessed, and curse those who need to be cursed. And have the wisdom to know the difference. My variation of the serenity prayer)

            The Joy is a gift from God. We try to do stuff on our own, and wonder why we burn out. Let God’s Joy flow through you, and you will be blessed. For some reason this seems to be a secret.

          3. Corollary: Doing nothing is better than doing something destructive.

            Or, as the medicos phrase it: First, do no harm.

    3. I’ve been throttling politics – even skipping commenting here – in order to maintain sanity.

      Same. I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious depression, and being on the internet is just not good for my mental health. Particularly the political parts. I still visit MGC, but even there, I try to limit myself to checking in once a day. I hope to be a regular commentator again soon, but right now, I just can’t handle it.

      I’m honestly not sure why I decided to check in at ATH today. Maybe someone above was telling me that what Sarah had to say was important.

      1. Hey, when did you get the sequel to Red Lights on Silver Mountain Road out? I missed that it happened! *heads out Amazon-ward*

    4. It’s true. And criminy, I’m the naturally depressed and gloomy one, whose cheerfulness is mostly learned professionalism and acting. To smile with my eyes and voice, to sing little songs, to give thumbs up signs or help people out… I don’t want that to stand out.

      But yeah, I’m having a hard time thinking of silly dad jokes.

      On the bright side, I saw somebody wearing a natty new Join or Die sweatshirt (you know, the US Revolutionary War broadsheet cartoon, with the snake cut into pieces that are each labeled as one of the states/colonies?). And the next guy who came up was very complimentary of the sweatshirt also, which was kind of hilarious because the sweatshirt guy was looking very doomer and desperate until getting all these compliments.

      More and more people are confiding in me at the retail job about their dislike and distrust of COVID, Biden, DeWine, etc. I’m turning into their bartender. Their political bartender.

      1. Husband cherishes his image as a cynical, hard-nosed and unsympathetic guy who heartlessly tells it like it is….

        He’s repeatedly come home demanding to know when the *bleep* he became a psychiatrist. Co-workers, a gaming buddy who scared us half to death by suddenly dropping off of ALL social circles (he was able to piece together enough information to get a police welfare check, and friend is now at least contacting friends sporadically), another buddy that I’m afraid will do herself harm passively…..

        1. As a faculty member, I was by default a psychology counselor…and now I find myself doing similar things for friends and some family members. On the one hand, I’m grateful I can provide some relief for people. On the other hand…I want to throw the phone into a snow bank.

        1. Lord, yes.

          People use retail workers as therapy elves. Customers will talk and talk and talk about everything under the sun. People share incredibly intimate details about their lives, whether you want them to or not.

          You’re often the first person to hear their son died yesterday of a drug overdose; they are widowed and facing their first holiday without their beloved….

          Retail is hard.

          1. You’re probably the first person to *ask*, and stress triggers things like not properly processing “how are you?” as a polite greeting, rather than a sincere question.

            1. Exactly.
              Those of us with high levels of empathy have to learn how to leave another person’s agony on the doorstep at work; don’t bring it with you.

              Before I left on a leave of absence I was avoiding customers completely.

            1. Checkers aren’t graded on congeniality–they are pounded every moment with SPEED SPEED SPEED. AND DON’T SCREW UP.

              They can’t afford to talk to you, to engage. They’re trained as machines.

    5. I’ve been throttling politics

      It would be much more productive to throttle some politicians… 😛

      1. Stress: The confusion created when one’s mind overrides the body’s basic desire to choke the living s— out of some a—— who desperately deserves it.

    6. We say a prayer for you, Peter, our esteemed hostess ,and the rest of the larger Good People crew every day. I have some Texas spirits for y’all from our local distillery if we ever meet in person.

      I get a brief pause for the holidays before my job cranks up to 11 or 13 next year. We have to deal with the economic fallout with what has been happening, but the can has been kicked down the road as far as it can be without going over the cliff. So if the overall fabric of society holds up enough for me to keep my position, I’m looking at 2 to 5 years of 70+ hour weeks without many breaks.

      Keep on being cheerful, it can make a persons day better and ripple through the community…

    7. I’ve been throttling politics – even skipping commenting here – in order to maintain sanity.

      Me too. I am apparently one of those easily influenced social wimps; people whose opinions and analysis I respect greatly are basically calling each other idiots and traitors (er, not directly, they don’t know each other) and (1) it is reminding me I really don’t habitually do enough independent research and (2) it hurts.

      The last time I tried to construct a calm and reasonable comment on politics, I lost my temper midway through, typed things that were both intemperate and unreasonable, and then got tangled up in whether it was enter or shift-enter and actually posted before I could get it edited back down to something fit for public consumption. I deleted it immediately and have been ashamedly hoping nobody had push notifications set up in such a way as to have seen it.

      I am, in fact, usually tired and stressed and making an effort to not make others more so.

      And that is something I really need to work on. I admire you for doing it.

  17. I join everyone here expressing condolences to Doug’s family. Terrible way to have worst fears confirmed.

  18. Rest in peace, Doug, and may Himself spare a moment of attention for your cats to go with you into the light. You were a good man, and a welcome presence at cons.

  19. Gracious Hostess; It has bloody well NOT been ‘spotty’. You post SOMETHING almost every day. Yes, there have been times when you did more, but you don’t owe us that much of your energy, damnit! ‘Spotty’ is going a week at a time with nothing, and then a post or two, and then silence again. If you can drop in every couple of days, GREAT. But don’t sweat it. Just try not to drop off the face of the earth for a month, K?

  20. I have a vague memory he had a bad heart, but I have a bad memory for that sort of thing, unless I’m actually talking to people, when the file opens up and it all comes out. At any rate, over the last month I’ve lost six people in my extended and fringe sets (fringe being people I only see/talk to at cons) to heart attacks and strokes. Must be the ridiculous stress we are all under, honest.

    “Heart Attack” would cover whatever that rhythm screw-up thing from an electrolyte imbalance– stress screws up how your body grabs vitamins, most of us are eating irregularly when we remember to eat at all, and some of us are trying to be healthy and/or lose the weight we gained this year so we’re exercising and….


    I’m so sorry….

    1. Heavy carbon dioxide, not enough oxygen, lots of fibers getting into people’s lungs, lots of bacteria growing on the insides of masks and then getting into lungs, not enough exercise and fresh air and sunlight, too much exercise, too much cold or heat or damp, sudden poverty and loss of work or dreams…. All kinds of factors, with stress and exhaustion and uncertainty over all, plus discouragement from going to doctors or urgent care or the emergency room. And a lot of overdoses, and a lot of people just getting depressed and turning their faces to the wall.

      Politicians have a lot to answer for.

  21. The best description of current times came from the server at a local restaurant. It’s run by a Christian sect, and they specialize in really good food, emphasis on organic but not fanatic about it and a site which is specifically designed to promote peace and serenity.
    My husband told the server the word that best described the Yellow Deli is, “sanctuary,” which startled the server. He replied that a lot of people were stressed, and it seemed as if, “everything’s slowly coming unglued.”
    Yep. Things are coming unglued.

    1. Civilization requires trust. Trust is the glue that holds it together. A marriage requires trust. Who would go into business with a partner they didn’t trust? The only advantage of a civil war is you learn who you can trust, but it comes at the cost of two thousand million dead.

      An important unlearned lesson: How after the first civil war did the South and North learn to trust each other again? Perhaps why those statues were there?

      1. During the first civil war the two sides respected each other. The idea that you can try your level best to kill something, and yet still respect it, is quaint and old-fashioned. It’s still seen among hunters, where the stereotypical photo of hunter, weapon, and dead beast has the subtext “This was a worthy beast” – a subtext that’s missed by the “waaah!” brigade who see such photos as vulgarities rather than acts of respect.

        The two sides of Civil War 2.0 are notably lacking in that respect for the other side. They see it as pest control, and we see it as fighting a zombie apocalypse.

    2. Things are coming unglued.

      Well, if the “experts” who are supposed to be running this country would apply the glue instead of sniffing it, things might not be so out of kilter.

  22. My condolences on the loss of your friend. I saw something about this on FB yesterday and texted a friend of mine. I haven’t yet heard back, so I just texted again. If I don’t hear back, I’ll call her later.

    We’re okay and do keep in touch with my husband’s siblings and we have friends here who would notice if they didn’t see or hear from us for a week.

  23. …So. Um, I have serious trouble with 1) talking myself up and 2) sounding vulnerable, and this is more or less both. BUT I went to bed last night with the word “comfort”, in the nonphysical sense, bouncing off the inside of my skull. Plus a trusted preacher telling me that I have “the gift of mercy” and my reluctant acknowledgment that I *do*, despite being a vengeful little so-and-so at heart. Generally coincidences like that mean the Author’s looking over my shoulder going “Get it yet, kid?”

    When things were really bad for me (vigorous toddler, bad town, recently deceased mother), I remember a moment of folding over the bar of my shopping cart and thinking that I would sell my soul for a kind word. I am *good* at kind words. So. A-g-g-r-o(no space)k-i-t-t-y at the gee-mail. If you need to talk, talk to me. I’m a veteran of enough emotional nasties that I will not think ANYTHING is “not worth it”. I’m located around the NC Piedmont and may be able to offer or find physical help as well if you need it.

    I now return gratefully to my regularly scheduled snarkery.

      1. Kinda like killing John Wick’s dog. To aggro the kitty was a bad idea to start with, and got worse from there. *rubs claws across custom whetstone*

      2. Had a cat wipe my WoW raid once. Vaelastraz, iirc. One of the mages suddenly started casting about sixty seconds too early, causing the fight to start, and a wipe.

        Afterwards, she reported that her cat had jumped up onto her keyboard…


        1. Can’t remember who the author was or where I read it, but someone did an LP of one of the big ASCII roguelikes (Nethack, ADOM, etc.). She got far and could plausibly have won until her cat jumped on the keyboard and got her killed.

      3. Kind of the reverse, actually. I’ve been playing Warcraft as a feral druid for years, and spent at least half of them hearing variations on “Sweetie, AGGRO!” from my tanking husband. (Aggro means I’m winning!)

        1. Too bad they split feral and guardian into two talent trees; it was fun to go between cat and bear as needed in a raid.

          I miss raiding on my Bearister. (Yes, the lawyer names her toons legal puns.)

          1. It was! My fondest druidy memory is from Vanilla, where over a few insane seconds in raid I switched out of cat to battle-rez the tank, slapped the main priest with Innervate so he could HEAL the tank, frantically beared at the boss while they got the tank back to something functional, and fell over in the consciousness of a job well done. 😀

            My toon names are all RP-ish. But I collect battle pets so I can give them horrible pun names based on boss encounters. (Currently I am running Nathria with Meekwing the teeny gargoyle by my side.)

      4. Many years ago, Pete Abrams did “Kitten” as a story arc on the Sluggy Freelance web comic. Daddy was the devil, and the kitties were a problem. (Story appears somewhere around July of 2000.) “Mew” was the last thing several characters ever heard.

    1. Something I ran into– part of the meaning of “mercy,” that’s kind of dropped from modern use, is giving when asked.

      I’m really bad at the more modern “remit that which you are due without them so much as a suggestion of an indication of an impulse to attempt to make whole.” It involves a degree of mind-reading which I do not possess, to avoid being an enabler.

      But I can improve by maintaining the paying attention– and working hard to give when asked. THAT, I can judge and weigh and figure out the morality of. and how I can try to make it better for what they want and what they need.

    2. “Plus a trusted preacher telling me that I have “the gift of mercy” and my reluctant acknowledgment that I *do*, despite being a vengeful little so-and-so at heart. “

      Himself seems the type to give us burdens we think ourselves least suited for. Me, I’m a curmudgeonly old grouch with little patience for fools and young people. Yet I tend to be the first called to train and mentor… young people when they get hired on. This does not compute. Yet it seems to work out in the end somehow.

      Personally? I think the limits on random events got pushed past the stops in 2020. We are all going to see more weirdness before things settle out.

    3. I’m a “confessor” personality, everyone tells me deep dark secrets for some reason. Probably because they never hear me say anything about anyone else. So quite used to it, and if anyone needs a “listens to ranting,” I’m available as well. My handle at gogglemail, western central (between Tampa and Orlando) Florida if you need to see a real person.

  24. Thanks for reminding us to keep in touch with loved ones, Sarah. You do have a way of hitting me right on the head. Within 3 months two close friends had husbands die. I try to call every day even if for a couple of minutes although covid keeps us apart. I have literally lost track of the number of friends who died in 2020 across the US, some only occasionally in touch with, but still…

    Like you, we are trying very hard to buy US made items and/or local items even thought our needs are relatively small. Hunkering down, expecting the worse and hoping for the best.

  25. My mom (who is 64) calls her 97 year old mother once a day. Even though my six siblings sometimes drive me crazy, we do a good job of keeping in touch. I’ll keep checking in here as well.

    1. My mom (who is 64) calls her 97 year old mother once a day.

      Reminds me of 2001 Jamboree. Our son, 12, went with the council contingent. Naturally he rolled his eyes when reminded to use the Buddy System, not easy since he was the youngest by 3 years. A week later I’m headed for the plane to be on national staff (by myself). So I get the lecture from my mom. Naturally, my response is “I’m over 40! geez!”, + eye rolls (I am a mother too). My mom just laughed and replied “I’m over 60! Your grandmother just gave dad and I the same lecture for our trip last month!”

  26. My wife used to check in every day with her father who had the endearing habit of calling, saying he was sick, and turning off his phone. Still corporal works of mercy and all that

    1. Oh, dear. My crazy uncle, my G-d rest his soul, had some weird thing about not wanting to make decisions without mom saying so (about my grandparents) because mom was going to criticize either way, (true) and he was an immature asshole his entire life (also true.)
      So when my grandfather had a heart attack, he called OUR HOUSE to ask if he should call emergency. Mom was out. I was studying for an exam. My answer was PROBABLY “Call the f*cking emergency. Are you stupid?” (I NEVER swore back then.)
      BUT I’ve always wondered if his spending time calling me and waiting for me to answer (I WAS STUDYING. Also, upstairs) cost grandad his life.

      1. I firmly believe that when it’s your time it’s your time.

        My FIL was a real piece of work. The first time I read the psychopaths’s test I said. “Hey, that’s Bob!” He died three days before my daughters wedding. She still says she’s surprised he didn’t do it the morning of the wedding since that would have maximized the impact.

      2. … cost grandad his life.

        No. At most it affected the timing — nobody’s life is their own, all return to the source.

        The older I get the less I want to live forever. The Human stupidity, it burns, it burns, but it never diminishes.

  27. The Daughter Unit and I are in a good place – we walk the dogs religiously every morning, and talk to neighbors, let the chickens out. My elderly and now-paralyzed mother (who fell all alone in the house that she and my late father had built) lives with my younger sister and her family, so we are spared that worry. When the Daughter Unit and my prospective grandson, Jamie, have their own place, we’ll be checking in every day.
    A small crumb of good fortune – our neighbor who was diagnosed early this year with stage 4 colon cancer has gone through surgery and chemo, and a couple of related crises – and is back to her chipper self, more or less … about fifty pounds less of herself than formerly, but she is so much better. We drove past her house today – she’s the one who always goes full-out on decorating for the season – and she was out getting the mail. Skinny as a rail now, but much restored to her former chirpy and cheerful self.
    We were so glad – she even had a Christmas present for us. She will have some eggs tomorrow, and the usual package of fudge on Christmas eve.

  28. Sarah, I’m very sorry to hear about your friend. We are fortunate to live on a block where my neighbors keep an eye on the block’s ‘retired folks’ (although I do wish we could move the neighborhood conversations from Facebook to MeWe). All of the younger families here have abandoned social distancing but are respectful of us old folks.

  29. I’m so sorry about your friend, Sarah. I lost my best friend in a less horrifying but similar way. We hadn’t talked for a few weeks, due to things in my life falling apart. And I sensed that things were not going well for her, but didn’t have enough spoons to coax a very private person to tell me what was up.

    She left work early because she didn’t feel well, and her heart gave out before she could start the car. Eventually someone found her. I was the designated emergency contact and had to search her house from top to bottom to find contact info on her estranged family (not to mention feeding, watering, and littering four hungry and unhappy cats). In the course of which search I found that not only was she bankrupt and about to lose her house, a big part of what she had told me about her life was… a carefully curated version of the truth. It’s taken me a long time to get over that. I still miss her. I wish she knew that I would have done anything to help her out of the hole she was in.

  30. Still here, still kicking, still ornery.

    I have a friend that’s gone on the “call every few days to check on” list. He’s going through an involuntary change of career, he’s a social animal who’s been cooped up away from his people and events for almost a year, and I’m worried about him. Thanks for the reminder.

  31. I’m really fortunate that circumstances have me living with my sister and brother in law, loving souls both.

    God has me checking up on someone who was really little more than a casual retail work acquaintance.

    Turns out she’s starving herself, or was, as punishment for… something. A friend of mine took a year to starve herself to death and we couldn’t do anything about it, even when we sat next to her hospital bed and begged her to love life enough to stay around. So, this acquaintance has been rudely jolted into actually eating food. At least for a couple of days.

    Reaching out in very real ways to people we might not have in another lifetime is, these days, the difference between life and death.

    Life can be so hard, and this year was designed to destroy us. Well, we won’t go. And we’ll look after each other till this is finished. Which is forever.

    1. Turns out she’s starving herself, or was, as punishment for… something. A friend of mine took a year to starve herself to death and we couldn’t do anything about it, even when we sat next to her hospital bed and begged her to love life enough to stay around. So, this acquaintance has been rudely jolted into actually eating food. At least for a couple of days.


      This thread is just full of horrors today……

      1. I *know*. I felt I had to contribute, in solidarity. There is so much suffering.

        The one thing, of the two things that invariably make Jordan Peterson cry: the meager amount of encouragement people need to really light their lives and their hope on fire. People never encourage each other, and sometimes all it takes to keep somebody going another day is a little bit of encouragement.

        1. Precisely. When I was in aforementioned Really Terrible Spot (figuratively and literally), I had a random grocery store employee compliment me on the simple fact that I was talking to my toddler daughter as we went down the aisles. Two sentences, and I was able to keep my head above water for another six weeks. It *matters*.

        2. I can see wanting to pull something like that off way back during certain periods…… Fortunately the moods never lasted long enough, and even if they had the will would have given out long before any damage, no matter how much vindictiveness I channeled into it.

          I also discovered One Weird Trick of kicking such moods into overdrive and more or less burning them out from their own stress. That probably shouldn’t have worked, but it was enough until better solutions came along.

          1. “…but it was enough until better solutions came along.”
            Amen. That’s a win in my book.

        3. the meager amount of encouragement people need to really light their lives and their hope on fire.

          An aside that might initially seem silly:

          There is a game from a few years ago (2017) called Nier: Automata. Without getting too spoilery, it slowly tortures it’s characters in typical literature ways, while also getting the player to care about them. A major theme of the story is that the various factions of AIs (alien machines, and the androids left behind by now extinct humans) are slamming into the hard philosophical questions in the worst ways possible.

          The game has a very interesting spoiler culture around it: everyone talks about how “OMG IT IS SO SAD! I cried so much at the end!”. But they never tell you why they cried so much at the end.

          (still trying to avoid spoilers) Because what the game does is — by drenching its world in meaninglessness and tragedy — to force the player to acknowledge that whatever they might say they believe, they do think there is Meaning. And that it is something worth fighting for.

          It doesn’t have to be much. In a pitch black cave a single candle in the distance is a floodlight. It just has to be there.

          1. “It doesn’t have to be much. In a pitch black cave a single candle in the distance is a floodlight. It just has to be there.”

            The Wild Boar soccer team, the kids who got caught in the flooded cave in Thailand? That’s how they survived 11+ days in the dark before they knew they were being rescued. They created the candle, and waited.

            I have a card from my friend that says “You are the light of the world.” It’s taped to my monitor. Today, let it be so. And let it be so for my countrymen.

        4. I have a younger cousin who has the spiritual gift of encouragement. I don’t know what I did, but she sends me messages and letters of encouragement. And I’m not the only one she helps.

                1. Admonish sinners.
                  Instruct the uninformed.

                  If you wish to be elegant about your spiritual works of mercy.

                  1. Look, I just work here. I just do what I’m told. He gives the marching orders. I’m not fussy about the name of my job. I’m the one who does as told. At least in regard to this one thing. DO NOT ASK about “not writing the booksies.”

            1. I’d like to see you, Correia, and Razorfist have a Rant-a-thon to raise money for some greater cause without raising any of any Great Old Ones in the process.

            2. >> “Is it possible to have the spiritual gift of ranting? because I think that’s me 😉”

              They told Sarah it was better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. And Sarah replied “I can multitask, bitch.”

            3. Yes, of course. It’s a subset of empathy and encouragement. 🙂 Everyone feels better after watching a good rant.

            4. Nobody liked the prophets. You could say they were always ranting at people. And what did they get for it?

  32. Yeah, I’m tone-deaf sometimes, too. I didn’t know Doug, wish I had. Am truly sorry for his family.
    At the same time, don’t pick up guilt you don’t deserve. And thank you for the reminder. We’ve all got somebody to worry about.

  33. And for something to lift the spirit, go outside and look west. The Great Conjunction is putting on a show.

    1. $SPOUSE and I saw it after dinner. In the Pac NW, they had separated a bit, but according to my bare eyes, I couldn’t see the two dots at first. 1986 Nikon Binocs to the rescue. Bought them for Halley’s Comet, and they’re very lightly used.

      Neat to see and share it with my wife.

    2. $SPOUSE and I saw it after dinner. They weren’t as close as some pics showed because we’re pretty far west, but it was seriously cool to share the sight with my wife.

      Got to break out my 1986 vintage Nikon binocs (bought for Halley’s comet, and lightly used over the years; not my regular pair of binoculars). Hadn’t thought about the ancient telescope, but it was a grand sight.

  34. Prayers promised here. I was just looking at Doug’s listing on a-zon this last week … so sad now.

    My better half was the designated investigator when his boss did not show up for work one day. To this day, he will not tell me about it. It’s a really hard situation. Knowing we all have to take the journey someday doesn’t seem to help with the travel plans.

  35. Semi regular reader, not sure I ever commented here, though I have on FB.

    Husband And I are the only ones in the house, but he has to log into work 5 days a week, and I have my job I go to 5 days a week. I’m “essential” don’t you know. A sales floor and receiving dept employee for a big box store. So someone’d notice if we disappeared.

    Husband just admitted last week that he’s suicidally depressed, so the guns have been moved to be less accessible, and he doesn’t know where I put them, while we wait and see if the anti-depressant will do its job. In some ways its worse because he’s normally fairly anti-social, but now he feels he doesn’t have a choice about it and it knocked his feet right out from under him.

    I’m fighting my own depression, though I don’t run suicidal thankfully. I see, daily, proof of just how badly we fucked up the supply chain, and the Christmas season just made it even more noticeable. And I have a decent idea of how badly that means everything behind the supply chain, including the people who drive it, are fucked.

    I’ve picked up a new hobby, making chainmail pendants. And I think its helped, ALOT, with my mental health. Making something pretty, something small that only takes a couple hours to make, helps. I made a bunch of chainmail snowflakes for christmas gifts, and gave most of them to coworkers, because we all need a smile.

    1. There’s a newer organization called for offsite storage,that might be available in your area, I’ve never been a fan of security through obscurity. Most police organizations will also give out free trigger locks.

      1. It’s not my first choice either, but it was the easiest first step while I figured out others, I moved the accessible ammo too, to a different hiding spot. I’d been wishing we’d stocked up a bit more on it, and am now glad we hadn’t. I will check into the .ORG suggested, thank you! I’ve been debating a trigger lock, hadn’t thought about seeing if the cops might have them, will check that too.

    1. Not family … but I came into work one day to my employer’s home office, to collect my paycheck and finish packing up some stuff … and found him dead of a massive heart attack. On his bed, naked.
      Yeah … that was an interesting day. He was a good friend, too – he trusted me with all of his logins. I knew where to find all his relevant data and ID and stuff. His family were magnificent about it all. His other employee and I sanitized the residence (as he was gay and we didn’t know how his family would handle it – fortunately, they loved him and it didn’t matter in the least.)
      Took hours for the medical examiner to show up, though.

  36. I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s a horrible way to go.

    I’m pretty lucky these days, that I’ve got enough people around here that if something happens to me, they’ll find out pretty quick, and not leave anyone else in the lurch, and my family has been in pretty close contact lately, especially after this November, but a long time ago, that wasn’t the case, and I remember one Thanksgiving week, we’d had a very long and complex set of things going on at work, and I’d accumulated enough overtime, that I ended up shifting it into the week after Thanksgiving. (Really time critical stuff, so we had to get it done.) So I had a week to myself.

    However, the second day in, I had a bad reaction to something I hadn’t yet realized I was allergic to, which triggered a massive asthma attack. You know how they describe suffocation in the movies? Well, it wasn’t like that. It was more like being in a dark room, your limbs made out of taffy, and someone has your hands and feet and is running off with them, and if you don’t run and catch them right now, you will never get them back.

    I got very lucky. It clicked that, this was asthma, and I needed to do something about it, and was lucky that it was responsive to the inhaler, but if it hadn’t, no one would have even noticed for over a week.

    If I had still been living there these days? I don’t know if anyone would have even noticed for over a month.

  37. Another one to check in on (and I’m getting nothing out of this): online vendors and stores that haven’t sold themselves Leftward. Any of y’all who are 3D artists in DazStudio or Poser, support HiveWire 3D (, even though they’re closing up shop after 4 January. In however many years they’ve been around, they’ve hosted and produced a major body of quality 3D resources without going slutwear or GLT-Mafioso.

    Daz has always had a degree of the former, but this fall Daz jumped their shark full-on into Tranny-Mania in what had been a mostly family-friendly venue. The “No Politics or Religion” rule in the fora is fine and dandy when there’s nothing of political relevance going on in the store, but when their latest banner-bundle is loudly and garishly endorsing a particular controversial demographic, with particular political and moral baggage attached, the rule is no longer “No Politics,” but “No Dissent!” because any and all objection is only conceivable on political or religious grounds. Obviously.

    So if you even dabble in Daz|Studio or Poser art, go spend a few at HiveWire so the man and wife who run it will have a few bucks more for their next big steps.

  38. If you’ve lost someone to sudden death, and you don’t have anything against praying for the dead as well as the living, the Divine Mercy chaplet is a pretty nice prayer.

    1. Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;
      Lord, hear my cry!
      May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
      If you, LORD, keep account of sins, Lord, who can stand?
      But with you is forgiveness, and so you are revered.

      I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and I hope for his word.
      My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak.
      More than sentinels for daybreak, let Israel hope in the LORD,
      For with the LORD is mercy, with him is plenteous redemption,
      And he will redeem Israel from all its sins.

  39. Damn it, 2020…. That’s a nightmare image for sure, death is inevitable but the idea of dying and failing those who depend on me is awful.

    Personally I’m hanging in there. Got the move done, and enough stress off to belatedly realize how badly my health slipped in the last frantic year. Augh.

    Trying to get enough sunlight to ward off the black dog – that, and beading bits. Slowly making progress on my worldbuilding draft again. It’s not going to be done by the end of the year, but it will get done.

  40. If your catbox is sending up smoke signals, you should scoop more often. 😀

    If the smoke is bright orange, you need to check what your cats are burying in there. Are they calling for artillery, or an airstrike?
    At my house, the ‘things that go bump in the night’ are cats.

  41. OT: I hope people were able to get out and see the conjunction. It was lovely out here. Lots of people in the neighborhood looking at it, helping other people find it . . . A blessed, welcome moment of peace and beauty.

  42. The bane of long-lived races is watching those of shorter lives pass away. We look back on a half century since we became adults, and find that remarkable. And then consider what another 20 years of living would bring. Yet what would a dwarf feel over 250 years? Or the elves after 1000, much less 10,000 or more?

      1. If only we could find someone to treat us as well as we treat dogs. Well, at least some of us. We all know alleged humans that treat their animals so poorly that we question their humanity.

          1. I find it sufficiently challenging to be better than the person my cat thinks I am — and my* cat likes me!

            *Technically, my cat that was and will be again in Heaven (I presume she’s put in a good word for me).

  43. Fellow I know lives alone (or does so in theory – Ma stays with him a non-trivial amount of the time) is in his late 90’s. There is a daily phone call, every morning at 8 AM or so. If he doesn’t call her, she tries calling him. So far, it’s been that he was talking to someone else just then. The day the call does happen? He will be checked up on, in minutes. It is possible the reverse could happen, yes.

    Also, this post seems to indicate that even if I have nothing to say, maybe just an “I’m still here” moo is not out of line.

      1. Funny, I read it correctly the first time, and only then noticed it wasn’t what was written. Glad you’re still out there, Orvan.

        1. “Image processing” is wonderful. But portal that ‘disappears’ regular folks socks? It seems to disappear my “n’t” and “not” and such, resulting in my seeming to say the opposite of what I mean. If I am fortunate, people realize the intent over the actual text.

          And some would say I’m most definitely ‘out there’. *shrug*

  44. Just trying to source ammo. Tough, but it’s out there. I need to listen to music. I haven’t been listening to music for about a year. It’s not good for me to be away from listening to music

    1. The mini-box store had 9mm(!) and some .338 ammo on hand. I have “enough” of the former and no need for the latter, so I passed.

      1. A Martmart had 9mm? Like, on a shelf? For anyone to look at? Wow. I hope you took a picture. 🙂

        You’re a good guy, leaving some for others.

        BTW, what do you think is “enough”? Just curious, I’ve never seen a discussion about it. I’ve kind of settled on 1,000 rounds reserve for two main calibers.

        1. 1000 spare rounds is probably reasonable, making the rash assumption that anything associated with 2020 is reasonable. Still, “enough” depends on myriad variables: number of firearms in that caliber, the number of shooters for the above, and the uses intended. If you want numbers for my stash of 9mm, please accept my apologies. I don’t talk numeric specifics.

          FWIW, how much ammunition is enough for a some shooters is like determining how many clamps are enough for a woodworker. Take a look at a luthier’s shop in mid-project for one example.

          Where I don’t have enough, I’m trying to get the components to handload. Certain components are far easier to get than finished rounds, especially if it’s something not commonly used in a given area. (For example, magnum rifle rounds in a densely wooded area in the East, or woods rounds in the West.)

          1. Clamps. You always have enough on hand, until you are in the middle of fitting and gluing, then you desperately need 1) a special one that you decided not to buy because you would never use it or 2) the one on the other side of the workshop and you cannot, repeat dare not let go of the work piece long enough to grab it! #WoodWorldProblems

          2. You mean anything associated with 2021, right? 🙂 Perfectly understand on specifics. Around where I am, there are some bullets available. No powder, no primers, no cases. Period. Best of luck on your reloading projects.

    2. I’m convinced ammunition is going to be post-apocalyptic currency. Also reloading supplies. Which are impossible to get right now.

      1. Hmmm. Maybe. Laying in a couple of rock-chuckers and die sets for resale or trade might not be a bad idea ….

        Odd thing about preparedness. I know a guy bought a bunch of Hi-Powers a few years back, convinced that post-apocalypse he could sell them. 7,000,000 fewer customers now.

        1. Come on, just because somebody bought a gun, doesn’t mean they won’t buy another one. Sometimes it’s just the opposite!

        2. The same shop that restocked 9mm also had a couple of Rock Chucker kits for sale. I’d like to get an electronic scale, but am set for the rest of the stuff. Do need to get the loading bench put together. Looooooong hiatus involved.

          Components are tough. I’m seeing plenty of bullets, occasionally some powder (that shop has some Red Dot and Green Dot on hand. I’ve used the green (I think) in trap loads, and I might have a use for red. I got cases and primers a while ago, but not much of either, and not for all the rounds I’d like to load.

          I went to a Not-Quite-Cabellas west of the Cascades Wednesday after Thanksgiving. Some bullets, no primers, no cases, and a solitary can of powder. The farm and ranch store had a bit more powder.

          1. Same story here at the eastern edge of the plains, but without the can of powder. I figure rock chuckers will be extremely (like replacement vehicle) valuable in the event of events.

  45. Sorry to hear about your friend and his kitties. A while back, one of my sisters stumbled into finding out how deep into the mental quicksand I’d sunk, and insisted that I text her one positive thing that had happened each day for over a year. We’ve stopped now that I temporarily don’t live alone, but it was a good thing to do, and I’d reccomend it to those looking for ideas.

    1. The gallows in my garden, people say,
      Is new and neat and adequately tall;
      I tie the noose on in a knowing way
      As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
      But just as all the neighbours–on the wall–
      Are drawing a long breath to shout “Hurray!”
      The strangest whim has seized me…. After all
      I think I will not hang myself to-day.

      To-morrow is the time I get my pay–
      My uncle’s sword is hanging in the hall–
      I see a little cloud all pink and grey–
      Perhaps the rector’s mother will not call–I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
      That mushrooms could be cooked another way–
      I never read the works of Juvenal–
      I think I will not hang myself to-day.

      The world will have another washing-day;
      The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
      And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
      And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall,
      Rationalists are growing rational–
      And through thick woods one finds a stream astray
      So secret that the very sky seems small–
      I think I will not hang myself to-day.

      Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
      The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
      Even to-day your royal head may fall,
      I think I will not hang myself to-day.

      “A Ballade of Suicide,” GK Chesterton.

      1. Dorothy Parker was terser:


        Razors pain you;
        Rivers are damp;
        Acids stain you;
        And drugs cause cramp.
        Guns aren’t lawful;
        Nooses give;
        Gas smells awful;
        You might as well live.

        1. Another by Ms Parker, because that was short and this is true:


          They hail you as their morning star
          Because you are the way you are.
          If you return the sentiment,
          They’ll try to make you different;
          And once they have you, safe and sound,
          They want to change you all around.
          Your moods and ways they put a curse on;
          They’d make of you another person.
          They cannot let you go your gait;
          They influence and educate.
          They’d alter all that they admired.
          They make me sick, they make me tired.

  46. 2020 was a shitty year for us before anyone else. On Jan 30, we found my son … gone. Had been for several days. It was not unlike him to keep to himself for a period of time, ignoring my calls and texts, especially when his demons came to visit. But he always promised me that he would reach out if things got bad. “Contract for safety” is what they call it in the therapist’s office. He was sick with the flu … or something. Maybe Covid? He called out of work, and got fired, even though he offered to go to the doctor to get his illness documented. His last text to me was telling me this. He was OK in his head, and heart, just feeling like crap, and would let me know if he needed anything. He was just going to “sweat out” the fever. Who knew a 32 year old, reasonably healthy young man would succumb in his sleep like that? Oh yes, the guilt … that is something that will last the rest of my life for not being a mother hen, and constantly checking on him, even though I know in reality there was nothing anyone could have done.

    1. I’m sorry. Natural to feel guilt, part of parenting, but don’t let it get power. As you say, we can’t be there all the time, or even most of the time. Guilt is just an echo of the love you have for your son. He knew the love you have, I’m sure of it.

    2. *hug*

      Can’t imagine.

      Our eldest is only 11– I’m closer in age to your son than my kids are to him– and can’t even imagine what that would feel like, and trying hurts like nothing.

  47. I’m blessed with family that keeps in touch. Not to mention a job that I have to show up for. However, I do admit to occasionally going off the grid to an undisclosed location to pretend the insanity doesn’t exist. It’s rejuvenating. Sarah, take time for yourself when you need it. We will be here when you return. Just let us know so we don’t worry.
    On a professional note, the deaths from heart attacks and strokes are way up this year. People are not going to the hospital because they may catch COVID, and instead are dying of their other illnesses. It’s the saddest thing. A family member just had a stroke, knew it, didn’t go to the hospital because of COVID, and lost his chance of reversing it, and retaining function. It just makes me want to punch someone.

    1. At some point (we’re going to be away ourselves till about the 28th?) send me a po box, or something.
      I’d like to send you something tangentially Heinlein-related. (Yes, I know it sounds weird, but it’s small and I think you’ll like it. It’s that sort of year, I’m tring to do nice things for people.)

    2. Here in the Occupied State of Jefferson (AKA, flyover portions of Oregon) my neighbor had his West-of-Cascades (still flyover territory) cardiac appointment cancelled because of CCPvirus restrictions. He got some stuff done locally (we have some decent heart docs, but not the advanced specialists), but really could use the more advanced stuff.

      So, “nonessential” procedures and tests are still getting nuked, and it’s not always up to the patient. I’m glad I had all the eye and foot stuff done before things went sideways. If they had while I was recovering from some of the procedures, I’d be One-Eyed-Pete. At best. Arggh.

  48. Checking in (not that I’m much of a regular). I’m still alive, and I’m actually in as good a spot as anyone can be. (Close to family and far from the big cities.) Not possible to be entirely clear of the “blast radius”.

    Trying to hold up my end of the holidays, while working on a personal project or two.

  49. Father God, may the goodwill of Sarah and Doug’s many friends and admirers here cover her beloved friend Doug and his family. Send your Comforter to his family (and all here) who feel the pain of anyone close and dear dying alone. But he (and any other) was not alone, You were there my Lord. You are present with the poor, the forgotten, the lonely, though they may keep You at bay. You are there. I thank You during this time we choose to remember You among us. I ask again that you Comfort and Encourage all in our Nation who see the storm gathering. Remind us that You rule the wind and the waves and can tame the storm. All we need is faith in You. In Jesus Holy Name I pray. Amen.

  50. Bummer about your friend, and his poor cats. That may sound flippant but, hell, all the words have been repeated a billion times before, and they all boil down to the same thing.

    Like when my brother called to say Dad had died, and apologized for not telling me in a good way.

    I told him, “There ain’t a good way. You got it done. That’s all anybody can do.”

    So if you were a good friend to him, you did all anybody could do.

      1. I’ve learned that no matter how I might wish it, I cannot change the past.
        I also have yet to genuinely and fully accept this irksome fact.
        May you have better fortune regarding such.
        Or prove me wrong.
        If you do, tell me. I have.. some.. edits… to make.

      2. Time and attention are limited resources. Doing more for one entails doing less for another. Our decisions about those tradeoffs are made with incomplete, physically & emotionally skewed, information and we can’t go back & play it over again to see who is shorted when attention is given to another.
        Forgive yourself for your unintended lapses. We all can’t help but have them.

  51. My condolences on your loss of yet another friend, especially in such sad circumstances. The many comments on the importance of staying in contact with friends and relatives will be a good reminder for me to do the same.

    I don’t comment often but I do try to stay current reading ATH, and have for several years now. It is amazing how much pleasure I have received from the occasional email saying “ATH (or other reader) liked your comment on (post)”. Just being recognized can be a boon to the spirit. So thank you!

    “And if I know we have a crafter (we do, my friend Wayne Blackburn, who does wood things, and my friend Jonna who does fabric thingies, and — I probably should have a day for people to advertise their non-book stuff, soon.) who is a liberty lover, I’ll buy from them first, (provided their stuff is good. Don’t reward crap. It doesn’t help anything. To a certain extent the left fell into that trap.) and the same with books and drawing and covers, of course.”

    Sarah, I would be pleased to participate if you had such a day. As a non-writer (apart from the occasional vignette) I’ve been very hesitant to mention my jewelry here, but I have a small selection of pieces I call my “American Spirit Collection” that I know would fit your criteria for “good stuff” as well as being appropriate for the times. I’ve put the website URL in my profile.

    Take care.

    1. It is amazing how much pleasure I have received from the occasional email saying “ATH (or other reader) liked your comment on (post)”. Just being recognized can be a boon to the spirit. So thank you!

      OR respond to the comment like you’d actually written something intelligent! Not patting you on the head. Not dismissing what you wrote … I can go on and on … Even when I go off on a relevant tangent that really could have been left off … Yep. A lot of boost to moral. Or, even better that relevant tangent of TMD takes up a life of it’s own in downstream comments!!!! — Works like this –> Post … oh, should have taken that last bit out …. subsequent comments take the tangent up … Wide eyes!!!!

      1. All of this! Even carp are a wonderful gift – to know you have made someone laugh, or groan, or both. 😉

  52. A good story: Based on this post and on the initial FB post, I texted a good friend night before last. She lives alone, is not on any social media, and can get hermit-like. I’d heard from her at Thanksgiving, but not since which is not uncommon. I got no response to my text. I texted again the next afternoon…no response. I was about to text again last night and was trying to figure out how I would get somebody to check on her when she texted back. We chatted for a few minutes…all is well. BUT, I will be texting her every couple of days from here on out.

  53. Sad that this happened. I wonder how many more have (& will) quietly suffer and die in this isolation?
    Sarah, thanx for trying to watch out for others, and encouraging others to do the same. We’ll get through these interesting times better for it…

  54. I realize many here no longer attend the musings of (most) National Review contributors, but I find them serviceable to limited extent, such as this from Jay Nordlinger, promoting his recent podcast interview with historian (ad former NR writer, Richard Brookhiser:

    On Liberty
    One of the most touching things I know, in all of American history, is Abraham Lincoln’s eulogy of Henry Clay. Rick quotes it: “He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country.”

    There is a world of Americanism in that statement.

    At the end of his book, Brookhiser tells a story about U. S. Grant and Otto von Bismarck. They met in Berlin, when Grant was on a world tour, after his presidency. “Here were two great nationalists of the modern era,” writes Brookhiser — “one who had beaten the armies of secession in the world’s largest republic, and one who had, through shrewdness and carefully chosen wars against neighbors, forged a collection of kingdoms and statelets into an empire.”

    Yet they were very different. They had different conceptions of nationalism. (In his book, Rick makes no distinction between nationalism and patriotism. He treats them as the same.)

    Bismarck expressed sympathy about the American civil war. They were the worst of wars, civil wars. Yes, but it had to be done, said Grant. Of course, replied Bismarck: You had to save the Union, just as we had to save Germany.

    Not only that, said Grant: We had to destroy slavery.

    Bismarck had to think about this for a moment. Well and good, he replied, but surely saving the Union was the main thing. At first it was, said Grant. But in due course, we saw that slavery had to be blotted out, forever.

    “We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle.”

    Writes Brookhiser,

    A union in which denial of liberty was a permanent feature, not a stain to be deplored, contained, or eradicated, was not a Union worth saving. It would not be America.

    He continues,

    Bismarck was half right. Nationalism, including national unity, is the organizing principle of the modern world.

    But Grant was entirely right. American nationalism embodies the principle of liberty. Without that, it is nothing. Without that, we are a bigger Canada or an efficient Mexico.

    Do you know my favorite statement about patriotism? It was uttered by Carl Schurz, the German immigrant who became a Union general, a U.S. senator, and other things. It was taught to me by Barbara J. Fields, the historian of the South. “My country, right or wrong — when right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be set right.”

  55. From a GOP tweet, this handy comparison of the “stimulus” proposals from the Democrats (HEROS), House GOP (HEALS), and the final agreement:

    Yes, from a GOP source (Mitch McConell’s press secretary), but it is a handy summary of what Pelosi’s stalling bought (aside from a fraudulent Biden election victory* numerous dead and dying Americans and businesses).

    *Playing up COVID kept Trump’s umbers low enough to stay within the margin of fraud.

    1. *Playing up COVID kept Trump’s umbers low enough to stay within the margin of fraud.

      It really didn’t. They wouldn’t have had to call a halt to counting and pull out the Break Glass In Case of Catastrophic Loss ballots.

    1. I laughed and laughed at the truth of this, and the happiness of the sentiment.

      This is US. I feel bigly happy.

  56. The Discovery process ought prove interesting …

    Dominion Voting Systems Employee Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Trump Campaign, Others
    A Dominion Voting Systems employee who was the subject to allegations and questions about whether he was connected to the militant leftist group Antifa is suing President Donald Trump’s campaign, several other people, and news outlets.

    Eric Coomer, a security executive who works at the Denver-based voting machine company, filed a lawsuit alleging that he was the victim of “false conspiracy theories.”

    1. The Discovery process ought prove interesting …



      And he lives in Colorado, so he should know that truth is a perfect protection against defamation lawsuits in the US.

  57. I’m sure that I am on at least page five or six of the list of “People Sarah Worries About” – but thought I should check in that I, at least, am just fine (for certain meanings of “fine”). Four people, three of them young, to look after me.

    It’s just been completely crazy since March in this house, between $SPOUSE$ trying to cope and do what she can for her special ed kids, election, and a couple of non-household family members. I have months of posts on ATH and MGC to catch up on; I haven’t even been looking at anything but news on the net.

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