2:00PM Water Cooler 12/31/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I will be taking a holiday breather, and running an abbreviated Water Cooler though January 3, 2022 (may it be a better year). Please consider this an open thread, and talk amongst yourselves. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Six (?) geese, probably not a’laying…

* * *

Here are a couple Covid charts. Case count by United States regions:

Oy. If anything, each day’s jump is higher. (Worth noting the case count is probably an undercount. All home tests don’t get counted, and not everybody can go get a test.) The case count went vertical about two weeks ago, so it will be interesting to see what’s been happening with the other charts I’ve been running, this coming Monday.

Here are the CDC’s rapid riser counties as of 12/29/2021:

Oy. California and Texas, suddenly not looking good at all. (I’m not adding the blue dots so as not to conceal the spread of red, but those Blue Cities aren’t looking any better either.)

Previous (12/28/2021):

Here, thanks to the sharp eyes of alert reader ChrisFromGeorgia, I have helpfully dotted the major cities that are also rapid riser counties — in blue (plus Denver and Nashville). Looks like those Blue Cities have some sort of Enemy Within thing going on…. (Chicago isn’t red, but pink, so no dot.)

* * *


A poem for the day:

December 31st


All my undone actions wander
naked across the calendar,

a band of skinny hunter-gatherers,
blown snow scattered here and there,

stumbling toward a future
folded in the New Year I secure

with a pushpin: January’s picture
a painting from the 17th century,

a still life: Skull and mirror,
spilled coin purse and a flower.

Through the miracle of Google, I was actually able to find a painting, barely into the 17th century (1603), that meets Hoffman’s criteria. Vanitas Still Life:

Jacques de Gheyn II Netherlandish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 964

De Gheyn was a wealthy amateur who is best known as a brilliant draftsman, but he also painted and engraved. This panel is generally considered to be the earliest known independent still-life painting of a vanitas subject, or symbolic depiction of human vanity. The skull, large bubble, cut flowers, and smoking urn refer to the brevity of life, while images floating in the bubble—such as a wheel of torture and a leper’s rattle—refer to human folly. The figures flanking the arch above are Democritus and Heraclitus, the laughing and weeping philosophers of ancient Greece.

I am also free to post this painting here, through the miracle of the Metropolitan Museum, the miracle of its curation, and the miracle of online postings from its collection. The Internet makes all of use awfully cranky at times, but then we see things we would never have seen or known of, too.

May the coming year bring, if not happiness, contentment, dear readers. Let us remember the flower as well as the skull, and let us hope we like what we see in the mirror.

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (J B):

J B writes:

Solstice 2021:

Frank Craighead of infamous Craighead brothers grizzly bear biologists wrote a delightful (regional) book about the seasons, that is nature’s calendar of events in a given year. It is said that when the wild rose is in maximum bloom, the snowmelt and river runoff have peaked and are on the wane. Kayakers sad, fishermen happy. At least, back in the day when we held our snowpack…

For Everything There Is a Season by Frank C. Craighead Jr. (goodreads.com)

The taller bush on viewer’s right is also a rose, but domestic. No idea what one. Smaller abundant flowers, deep green leaves.

The deer and cottontail love the rose hips, and have re-seeded volunteers around our yard and on adjacent park lands.

Quaking aspen in background viewer’s left, green ash viewers right

Here’s to a much less interesting 2022!

[Clinks glass]

* * *

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Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Samuel Conner

    For my last purchase of 2021, I’ll place an order with Fedco. Seeds are an expression of hope in the future.

    Was delighted to discover Zaatar oregano in the catalog.

    Spurred by its praises from Gabe Brown, considered daikon radish to try to permeabilize a clay pan that hinders water infiltration — but Spring plantings bolt to seed before the root can get big.

    Of course, as a hedge against gloom, one considers St John’s Wort.

    Happy 2022 to all!

    let’s hope it’s a good one.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > For my last purchase of 2021, I’ll place an order with Fedco. Seeds are an expression of hope in the future.

      Brilliant thought (and supporting a co-operative as well).

    2. Mel

      “bolt to seed before the root can get big”

      I had windowsill parsley try that. I snipped off the bolting stem. Is that going to work, I wonder?

      1. lordkoos

        It works with basil, both Thai and Italian – I routinely pinch off the blossoms which delays the flowering and increases leaf production. Doesn’t work so great with cilantro…

    3. griffen

      I am unlikely to quote Paul, John, or George that much, but yes. “Let’s make it a good one.” Can’t get weirder, says I.

      Then again, yes it certainly can! Happy New Year.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      The only place I’ve been able to grow daikon radishes without that problem is in semi-shade. The weather seems to turn too hot and dry in June even in Cleveland otherwise. I wonder if Brown’s planting them in the midst of grasses has a similar effect.

      Comfrey has big, long roots, and is a perennial that can break up just about anything. But getting rid of it if you want to may be a challenge.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I thought I read somewhere that if daikons were planted somewhere between late summer and early fall, they would grow a big root without having a rising and then falling daylength trigger off bolting.

        Maybe worth experimenting with a few seeds just to see.

    5. Arizona Slim

      Note to self: Start the living room tomatoes and mustard greens tomorrow. They will begin life indoors and will be transplanted outdoors in a few weeks.

      1. petal

        Yeah I’m so bummed. She almost made it. Pretty sure she was the magic glue holding the universe together. Now it’s really going to unravel. 2021 can gtfo. Been such a bad year.

          1. petal

            hahaha Jen, yes about Keith Richards! Thanks for the laugh! Come on, Keith! Pretty sure he’d even survive nuclear war, but hopefully it won’t come to that.

          2. Patrick Morrison

            “Youngsters need to start thinking about what kind of world they are going to leave for me and Keith Richards” – Willie Nelson

            Happy New Year, all.

        1. katiebird

          Also, if she could have hung on till tomorrow her dates would have been, 1922-2022, which would have made it seem like she made it to 100.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          We can get Uncle Joe to send a letter from the White House to all new centenarians:

          “Dear Youngster,”

      1. Jonhoops

        I’m not sure they are sending out those letters. My sister applied for the message she gives to 60th anniversary couples, didn’t get any reply. Mind you it was during the first Covid summer in 2020 so that may have played a part.

        I ended up deep faking a video of the queen congratulating them. I even found some old BBC footage of when she visited our town in he NWT in the ‘70s. I think they probably enjoyed it more than getting the real thing.

        1. wilroncanada

          They weren’t. My wife’s cousin applied for “the letter” for his mother in January 2021, and were turned down. Her cousin did get an RCMP officer in full red serge uniform to visit and present a letter (from whom I don’t know, maybe the province). She was thrilled.
          She died a month later.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve been going through Betty White clips. It never occurred to me that I’d miss out on anything by not having a television, but she makes me reconsider my views. I rarely laugh out loud, that that quote!

    1. LilD

      Carmel is losing famous residents fast…
      Mike Nesmith, John Madden, Betty White

      Tonight, I’m settling in with mushroom risotto and the first Chipmunk movie. Just finished arranging the song in time for Xmas morning…

      Happy new year

  2. OptikErik

    Recently, Rick Beato was linked to for some great musical analysis and opinion.I agree.
    May I also recommend Fil from Wings of Pegasus. Fil is an accomplished rock musician [metal leaning]. Here he is comparing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
    I now have a much better appreciation of the crooner vocal style than I used to.
    My usual main musical interests are Blues for Swing dance.  Or Latin for Salsa dance.
    All the best to the NC community for the New Year.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Rick Beato’s channel has been one of my favorite finds of the last year. I know almost nothing about music theory and couldn’t tell you a C# from a G, but his vids are mesmerizing. His ability to dissect a song, play the parts, discuss the musicianship behind it is just a joy to behold.

      Happy 2022 to everyone here in the NC community – you all are one of the last bastions of sane discussion about anything relevant in our world. Cheers!

    2. redleg

      These have been nice to see, as he’s been analyzing auto-tuned vocals over the last few weeks.
      The contrast between the crooners and autotuned vocals is stunning, and he delves into the why the natural vocals have more emotion.
      The discussion is more impressive because Fil is a guitarist, who appears to have missed his calling as a vocal instructor. It’s been an interesting series.

    1. jim truti

      Didn’t Turkey just got the full MMT treatment as their currency imploded?
      Warren Mosler, MMT’s founder, recommended interest rate cuts to “firm the Lira”.
      Turkey did just that within a few days of the recommendation.
      And each rate cut caused the Lira to collapse.
      Within a few months the currency had imploded -50%.
      And I don’t think we have seen the end of the disaster yet.
      How is it that we are all over CDC and other government agencies for their total failure in their missions, yet we think that another agency charged with fixing and controlling prices will get it right.

      1. Yves Smith

        This is false on multiple levels, particularly straw-manning Mosler and other MMT proponents.

        Mosler is not the founder of MMT. MMT is effectively neo-chartalism. I suggest you bone up.

        MMT supporters explicitly want central banks out of the business of attempting to manage the economy. They see interest rates as an inefficient and anti-worker means to achieve that end. That is why they recommend 0% policy rates and a job guarantee instead, that setting a floor for the price of labor is far more powerful and beneficial.

        As for Turkey, Mosler writes:

        I continue to recommend going ‘cold Turkey’ to a permanent 0 rate policy to firm the lira and reduce inflationary pressures.

        This is not to say the lira will then appreciate and inflation go to 0, as they are engaged in numerous other weak lira/pro inflation policies pushing the other way.

        It is to say that positive rates fundamentally contribute to aggregate demand and to inflation, and work to weaken the currency.

  3. MonkeyBusiness

    The Delta plane that got turned around. I think two days ago, Lambert posted the following: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/delta-says-flight-shanghai-turned-back-new-covid-rules-rcna10041

    So the Chinese media interviewed the passengers to get their take, I mean that only makes sense right? Not sure why our media couldn’t do the same. Anyway, from Tencent’s QQ: https://new.qq.com/omn/20211229/20211229A0D2K200.html. It’s all in Chinese I am afraid, but here are a couple points from the article ….

    – By the time the plane took off, the flight number had changed from DL287 to DL9891. Because of unwell passengers, weather, and other factors, the plane that had originally been scheduled to leave Seattle on December 21st, 2022 only took off the evening of the day after. I don’t think this was mentioned anywhere in the NBC News article.
    – Passengers were apparently told that the plane had to turn around because of new passenger entry requirements. That’s different from what Delta told the Western media. One of the passengers pointed out that the excuse didn’t make sense. He said : “Even with the delay, there’s still around 5 to 6 hours left before our health certificates are due to expire. The certificates also come with a 24 hour extension courtesy of the San Francisco Chinese consulate. Shanghai Pudong Airport also knew about our flight in advance, so they would not suddenly refuse to allow the plane to disembark.”
    – “Delta Airlines simply wanted to pass the buck to the Chinese government.”

    So apparently there’s recently been a spate of sudden cancellations by American and Delta Airlines for China bound planes causing Chinese citizens to lose quite a bit of money.

    Happy New Year, everyone!!!

  4. Soredemos

    Qatar has a piece wanting us to think about the true victims in Ukraine: the Ukrainian citizens living near the border with the scary ‘Russian separatists’. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/31/i-hear-shelling-every-night-war-stalks-life-in-eastern-ukraine

    These people are, of course, also ictims. But there’s something surreal about running a piece talking about them, while implicitly the villains are the nearly four million people in the Donbass who have been under siege and the threat of ethnic cleansing for almost eight years.

    AJ is interesting because it’s useful for trying to gauge the Qatari propaganda line. At times it’s lockstep in line with the US, and at other times it’s very counter to it.

    1. Polar Socialist

      We had a similar article published where I live in Northern Europe, so it may just be Ukrainians arranged a trip to the front line for a group of journalist they knew wouldn’t be asking the wrong questions. Probably as a preparation for military action to re-establish government rule
      in Donbass.

      Just like last spring we suddenly had interviews from the tranches in Eastern Ukraine, where the Ukrainian soldier were waiting for “Russian attack”. One of the interviewees was a sergeant with a minor wound – which he said he got while clearing the mine field between the lines. What the journalist didn’t ask was: why are you removing mines, if you are waiting for the other side to attack?

      That, of course, was the time when Ukrainian president and defense minister had boasted on attacking Donbass and moved a lot of heavy equipment there – pictures of which the Western media then used to prove that Russia was moving tanks in the area…

  5. j

    “Delta Airlines simply wanted to pass the buck to the Chinese government.”
    Passing the buck is the hallmark of species: spineless weasel

  6. thoughtful person

    Sitting in a rapid riser county here in Virginia and thinking about the cases count in the US.
    Lambert wrote:
    “If anything, each day’s jump is higher. (Worth noting the case count is probably an under count. Home tests don’t get counted, and not everybody can go get a test.) ”
    We’ve been watching covid levels in the wastewater in Boston here as well. That chart has gone vertical as well. I was thinking if you take that as a proxy for cases, looking at the peak last winter in Boston it is now about 7x (on a 7 day average basis) to 3x (comparing the highest single day from last winter to this winter). We may soon be looking at, including asymptomatic and so forth, about 750,000 to 1,750,000 cases per day. That would be the corresponding level of cases to the corresponding level of covid in the wastewater last winter. Of course, could be other reasons… but I suspect that 3x to 7x last winter will prove to be in range. Omicron is way more infectious than what we had last winter. Unfortunately we have about 70 million unvaccinated and I think that includes under 17 who only recently were allowed to get shots. We have probably more co-morbidities here in the US than other similar countries I would guess (obesity is epidemic, no national health system, lack of health care access due to income etc). So, the effects of omicron may be “mild” to those who are under 60, in good health and vaccinated, but what about the rest of the country? Yikes, it’s not gonna be pretty.

    Hate to be a downer with that unpleasantness (I hope I am wrong!), but I really appreciate the NC community here where people are allowed to speculate – based on facts – and we all try to figure out what the &%^ is going on. Crazy times. NC is like a bit of a life boat.

    Thanks for the water cooler Lambert, and to Yves and all the NC Crew and Commentariat,
    Happy New Year 2022

    1. VietnamVet

      Note; the red blob in the greater DC area should be larger but Maryland Health Department was hacked and has stopped reporting COVID cases. Instead the map above shows the gray for the state instead of the most likely bright red for DC suburbs and Baltimore.

      Today, no news is not good news.

    2. AndrewJ

      Happy new year, one and all. This place makes me feel less crazy, an antidote to the baseless optimism and gaslighting of popular culture. And the voices of the comment section are so wonderful, it reminds me of the old days of blogging. I’m not putting together a rosy vision of the future from what I see here, but it does a better job explaining what’s happened and what may happen than any other single aggregator. Maybe someday I’ll want to put on a blindfold and be surprised by our collective fate, but not today.

  7. Larry Y

    I’ve been thinking about the COVID measures in Xi’an. It isn’t a top tier city – below Wuhan, much less Beijing or Shanghai. There’s tech and aerospace, and memory chips will take a hit.

    What are the larger implications? Well, Xi’an is a major tourist destination, being the capital of China throughout it’s classical period with the Terracotta Soldiers. That explains the scale of the lockdown. No reporting on where the infections came from. With other cities, they blamed it on international travel, but…

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Xi’an is on a lot of land routes, especially into central Asia, so it could be movements of illegal workers causing the outbreaks. Its also a major railway hub. Its also, incidentally, enormous, something like 12 million people in its metropolitan area.

      They also make rather good titanium bike frames in Xi’an, the aerospace industry in Xi’an supply a lot of bike brands who then polish them up and sell them for a gigantic mark-up in the west. I’ve been quietly lusting after one in the window of my local bike shop every time I pass, next time I’ll pop in and ask if they’ve an issue with supplies or cost.

  8. Eustachedesaintpierre

    A Vanitas painting is here today, gone tomorrow like your youth, don’t worry it will all be over & your material gains won’t help you at all. If I had a favouite painting featuring a skull it would be Holbein the Younger’s Ambassadors which is pure vanitas & as his bosses were Thomas Cromwell & Henry VIII within very turbulent times, Hans was likely to have been witness to much in the way of discord which is another theme featured in that masterpiece.

    Memento Mori


  9. marku52

    Wow, what a year. One could hope the next one will be better, but Omi seems to be set to start it off with a BANG.

    Thanks to all the NCers, and NC itself.

    Stay hull down, as Ambrit says!

    1. ambrit

      Coming back at ya from behind a hill as it were.
      History shows that novel pandemics last for years. With the new forcing mechanisms for mutation, the non-sterilizing “vaccines,” and fast international travel, the factors supporting widespread immiseration are truly “progressive.”
      Stay very safe marku52.
      Have a Bearable New year everyone!

        1. ambrit

          Oh yes, as one can argue that much of the “official narrative” being placed before us is fictional.
          I await with bated breath a “Covid Decameron.”

          1. ambrit

            I learned it as being tanker slang for hiding all but the very top of a vehicle behind a hill. So, basically, keep a low profile. Looking it up further, I find that it is also naval slang, but similar in meaning to the later armoured slang. Preppers have a similar idea and call it being a “Grey Man.” Blend in with the scenery and call no attention to one’s self.
            Hull down: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hull-down#:~:text=In%20sailing%20and%20warfare%2C%20hull,of%20the%20body%20is%20visible.&text=Beginning%20in%20the%2020th%20century,been%20used%20in%20armoured%20warfare.
            The conditions in our society have become so “dynamic” of late that avoidance looks to be an optimal survival strategy.
            As for opposing the “Elites” today, I am reminded of the old adage concerning power relations; “When you go to shoot the King, do not miss.”
            Chaos might be our best ally.

  10. Jason Boxman

    So this has been going on for so long, remember the miracle of soap and hand washing? And all the great visual aids showing it eviscerate viruses and bacterial alike. Soap was going to save us all! Then, Biden was going to save us all. Can’t wait for next year.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > soap and hand washing

      Soap and hand washing are miracles. I should find a good study on soap and hygiene, but this will have to do; no matter what I do, Google’s front page of soap results is completely polluted by WHO and CDC propaganda from 2020 on handwashing as a method to prevent the spread of Covid (an early sign of the destructive influence of the hospital infection control community). All of those posts should be corrected or at least 404ed by now, but n-o-o-o-o-o…. Complete dysfunction.

    2. Eclair

      As an impressionable youngster, I read a junior-level biography of Ignaz Semmelweis, the Hungarian obstetrician who was almost laughed out of the profession by his colleagues, when, after noticing that women who came to the hospitals to give birth under the care of doctors (male) died at a higher rate than women who gave birth at home, most under the care of female midwives, he advocated ….. washing ones’s hands after examining one patient and before going on to the next patient. And, this ties in with the posts the other day, of Medieval illuminations showing Mary’s Midwife, who, undoubtedly, washed her hands between patients. In Holy Water.

  11. Kelly

    My cousin is in Guam, U.S.A. Midnight New Years Eve, besides car horns and firecrackers, waves of voices shouting F*** Joe Biden! and Let’s Go Brandon!

    This is going to be embarrassing for the Democrats if it happens in Blue States on this side of the International Dateline.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      As Yves once said on here: there are no blue states. Democrats largely depend on big blue cities surrounded by mostly red counties. It’s going to be a tough sell going into cities decimated by COVID asking for votes after insufficient stimulus, errant CDC guidance and a failed single-bullet policy. #GLWT Dems.

  12. scarnoc

    As the owner of exactly six domestic geese (Chinese and Roman Tufted), I can say that the recording does not do the real thing justice unless you turn your volume to eleven.

    1. HotFlash

      I have known a few ‘domestic’ geese. Are you sure you can say you are their owner? The geese might think otherwise.

      1. scarnoc

        A scientific response. I should say that I am caretaker, pond-filler, and vegetable-matter provider to six geese.

        1. ambrit

          My father in law had various types of fowl on his little Gentleman’s Farm. The only bird that could compete with the geese in the noise category were the Guineafowl. I’d imagine that the sound of both geese and guineas going at the same time would break any instruments measuring the commotion.

  13. allan

    Worth noting the case count is probably an undercount. Home tests don’t get counted, and not everybody can go get a test.

    Not true everywhere. In our county of ~700,000, today’s readout was

    There were 1,290 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported
    today. There were 866 new positive home tests reported today.

    So, roughly 1 case per 340 persons per day. Mildly superexponential.

    Happy New Year to all.

  14. AndrewJ

    Since someone asked yesterday – I got the J&J as a booster yesterday, after getting the first one in April (or May?). Similar side effects but not as severe – temperature regulation issues, sweating all night, minor headache, flu-like aching of joints.
    Interestingly the fellow in front of me in the walk-in vaccine line, an African, had also opted for the J&J, which meant the assistant had to go get alternative paperwork. Hmm. I opted for the J&J due to a n=230k preprint from South Africa that appeared on the 28th. I wonder what his motivation was?

  15. Brian Beijer

    This comment isn’t a reflection on any specific article or previously stated comment. I realized tonight that I have been going through Kubler Ross’ stages of grief for the past few days and grappling with the possibility of my unforseen death due to the Omicron wave. Being 51, I might be considered a “yung ‘un” for some of the commenters, and many here may have already experienced coming to terms with their impending mortality. Yves has done an admiral job in upholding the expectation that a certain analytical distance is maintained while discussing emotionally charged topics such as perpetual fraud, war, climate change, the pandemic, etc. I wholeheartedly agree with this stance. Yet, perhaps this particular moment is different. I was just thinking that I might not be the only one struggling with the emotional shockwave as this tsunami of disease and death overtakes the world. When dealing with grief and loss, I find poetry is the only place I can find kindred solace. Due to copyright laws, I’m not sure I can post any poem at length, but I found a few words of wisdom in a poem by Mary Oliver titled “In Blackwater Woods”

    To live in this world

    you must be able
    to do three things:
    to love what is mortal;
    to hold it

    against your bones knowing
    your own life depends on it;
    and, when the time comes to let it go,
    to let it go.

    I hope might this give a little strength to fellow commenters who find themselves at the same crossroads as me.

    1. LawnDart

      I’d hope that most reach “acceptance” by the time they get to adulthood– it really takes a load off. To me, the “five-stages” sounds like immature, teenage-angst crap, but what do I know other than that BS sold and someone got paid.

      Anyway, I think it’s a bonus if you can manage to keep your dignity intact as the inevitable draws ever closer, and to die knowing that you’ve done more with your time than simply wank, that you have given at least some of your time for and have worked for something bigger, greater, more important than yourself… …that I respect in people.

      Poetry is cool. I like Emily Dickinson’s work:

      I died for beauty, but was scarce
      Adjusted in the tomb,
      When one who died for truth was lain
      In an adjoining room.

      He questioned softly why I failed?
      “For beauty,” I replied.
      “And I for truth – the two are one;
      We brethren are,” he said.

      And so, as kinsmen met a-night,
      We talked between the rooms,
      Until the moss had reached our lips,
      And covered up our names.

      Charles Mackay was a stud, too:

      You have no enemies, you say?
      Alas, my friend, the boast is poor,
      He who has mingled in the fray
      Of duty, that the brave endure,
      Must have made foes.
      If you have none,
      Small is the work that you have done.
      You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
      You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
      You’ve never set the wrong to right.
      You’ve been a coward in the fight.

      Well, here’s to hoping we don’t end up alone, prone in a puddle of diarrhea with a plastic tube stuffed down our necks as we drown in our own bodily fluids– Happy 2022!!!

  16. rowlf

    Tonight’s local “Evening At Khe Sanh” was well performed. Lots of fire missions with expensive launched fireworks in a one mile radius semi-rural area. Surprisingly little small arms fire.

      1. rowlf

        About 45 minutes drive south from ATL airport. Hopefully the horses in the area weren’t spooked, but we’ve had two days of thunderstorms too.

      2. rowlf

        To give you some hope for the New Year, someone donated a lifted pick-up truck to a Wat nearby and the monks use it to drive into town. The abbot keeps the crew busy cleaning up the property. To paraphrase Joe Bob Briggs, we’re talking monks swinging chainsaws, driving tractors, using rented backhoes and woodchippers.

  17. steve

    78 F here in Lower Alabama (northern edge of the accepted dividing line of Lower/Middle), not unheard of in recent times but a bit much. We teased 32 F several weeks ago but the Zoysia is still green and many perennials are looking the need to be put out of their misery, tired of the year but still waiting for the right signal to turn it in and bide their time till Spring. Others have decided it is Spring and are budding and blooming. My White Iris, always first of the germans, have been blooming since Christmas. The Star Magnolia is embarrassing itself and going all out. I have a petite Jonquil that has put out a spread and looks ready to go all-in. I feel no joy in their displays knowing its but another sign of the coming calamity that rolls this way. While 2021 is nearly universally being given a good riddance, I’m thinking I’ll come to miss it compared to what will follow. Remembering what the seasons should be, what they were, is becoming harder and cold numbers on a chart just doesn’t stir the soul or capture the sense of it. It’s a great loss, slipping away.

    Happy New Year All

    Stay Safe

  18. ObjectiveFunction

    Hey, the ridgeline firing positions of 304th and 325th PAVN at Khe Sanh (known to the American invaders as ‘NVA’) Divisions are occupied today by state-subsidized wind farms, so there’s that…..

    In other surveillance news, as of a few hours ago all the FB photos I am seeing from ‘Friends’ (I am an expat and this is the only way to keep in touch with old friends, so please stop judging — I use only a non-Java browser, not the app) look utterly creepy, like the faces have been Photoshopped on the bodies (even when it’s the expected people). Much higher pixelation than the background photos, so please draw the appropriate conclusion….

    Where have you been? / it’s all right, we know where you’ve been

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        So on further scrutiny, it looks like this may be an effect of the ‘glamor shot’ filters people are using on their phonecams nowadays, not some kind of FB specific imagery ‘enhancement’. Still looks creepy as all heck though.

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