Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Collapse XLIX: Thanksgiving

28 November 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

The calendar (which I still try to keep up with) reliably informs me that this is the last Thursday in November and thus, Thanksgiving Day.

I understand. The thought of a traditional holiday in the midst of what we are currently living through seems at best a dream today – somewhere, I suppose, someone is enjoying the traditional feast of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, but only in those places this year that turkeys live and can be shot and processed, where someone has yeast and flour to make bread and then convert it into stuffing, and where someone has the makings of pie crust, pie, and a pumpkin.

In other words, a traditional Thanksgiving feast this year would be quite a thanksgiving indeed, merely for having been able to assemble all of the food.

Nothing that exotic here, of course: I splurged my breakfast with dried blueberries and for dinner allowed myself an entire piece of smoked fish for dinner with some honey and dried fruit for dessert. Given the monotony of my recent diet, this was very much a feast indeed. The rabbits each enjoyed a piece of dried apple to go along with their evening meal as well, so we all got to celebrate.

To cheer myself up a bit, I played Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in the background as I ate – which is something I rarely do anymore, due to the potential power draw. It was – for the current time – a rather festive period.

As I sat there, eating my dried fruit and honey, listening to the violin move up and down the scales in a musical representation of the seasons, I thought of Thanksgivings past. They have run the gamut, as I suppose they do with many of us: in the beginning we have them with our immediate family, then we have them as we visit home, then we have our own families for Thanksgiving, then they leave and perhaps we become part of their Thanksgivings, until perhaps we are celebrating Thanksgiving in a much smaller group or perhaps even by ourselves.

That chain is largely broken now: no-one is going “Home for the Holidays” and is likely not to do so for some time. At best, people are huddled together in small groups like I am, enduring the late Autumn cold, eating something of special value (as I am). At a lesser value, they are eating something out of the weather.

At worst, they are eating nothing at all.

It is both easy and difficult to give thanks in such circumstances. Easy in that I have a great deal to be thankful for: I am warm, fed, provided for, and relatively safe. Difficult in that, given the fact that in a mere seven months we seem to have fallen so far so quickly and in that sense there is little enough to be thankful for.

The fire is starting to die down. As a treat, I may burn one more small branch, listen to Vivaldi again, and think on happier times.

Happy Thanksgiving, my old friend.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A Bibliophile's Inconvenience

For almost a month now, I have had the most First World Problem of First World Problems:  I cannot find a book to buy at my local used bookstores.

You might think that, given everything that is going on, this is the silliest of silly problems.  And you would be correct - except, of course, if you are bibliophile (lover of books).  In that case, this is near to a major crisis.

I know what you are thinking:  "TB, do you really need another book?"  It is a legitimate question, one that (on her behalf) The Ravishing Mrs. TB wishes you would ask of me more often.  We have a great many books in our house - in fact, one might argue our own personal library - of which I am the chief architect and current record holder.  It all started innocently enough, as these things always do:  I had book interests that could not be found in my local library and thus, had to buy my books (mind you, this was in the days before The InterWeb existed so it took some doing).  Before long, I kept expanding my interests to new areas or needed additional materials for particular subjects.

In going to my local used bookstores, I have (heretofore) had little to no issue finding something that was interesting to me (and the prices could always generate my interest a bit more).  But for a month running, I have found nothing I am willing to invest even my loose change in.

Part of it, of course, is The Plague of 2020.  The bookstores simply do not have the stock they used to have because they are buying books much more infrequently now (and shipping them out all the more). As I have continued to go and look, the shelves become more empty, not less.

Part of it as well is the fact that my area of purchasing has shrunk.  I do not just buy "any book".  It has to fall within specific subject parameters and in some genre types (Science Fiction and Fantasy, for example) specific authors.  I find that I am largely done with books that I will read once and then move on from.  I want books that I will revisit multiple times (which essentially seems to rule out a great deal of current fiction).

The final part, also interestingly enough, is that I seem to be willing to spend less money overall - after all, a "good" deal on something you do not need is really not a good deal at all, no matter how inexpensive it was.

This whole thing - not finding a book - has become a strange annoyance to me.  I cannot put it out of my mind.

Understand, this does not mean "there are no books out there".  There are - all through the InterWeb (which I have been purchasing, as coupons allow).  I have a list.  I am still acquiring, although more slowly (and always paying shipping).

But - and this is the part that gnaws at my mind - it feels like there is something more significant here.

Let us say - pretend with me here for a moment - that the InterWeb went away.  My book selection would now be limited to whatever I can find locally.  Most of the titles I am looking for - trust me, none of them are "subversive" or "questionable" and thus being withheld or suppressed - are no longer available.  And that selection would be dwindling every day.

I suspect what I am seeing here, now, is a very small vignette of stories that is and will continue to play themselves out all over the world as in minor ways supply chains and the supply and demand of the local market manifest themselves.

For now, a bibliophile's inconvenience.  Given all that seems to be going on, coming to an economy near you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A Sort Of Hammerfall: A Post Transfer Update

It has been almost a month now since I formally transferred from my previous position to my new position in Project Management.  A few observations on how the transfer has been going:

1)  My e-mail traffic is down - way down.  I went from somewhere between 100 and 150 e-mails a day to 20 to 30. 

2)  Along with that, my meetings have gone down - not quite a significantly (perhaps 15 hours a week instead of 30 hours) but definitely a difference.

3)  However, along with the drop in e-mails and meetings is a significant drop in my insight into the state of the company and its ongoing operations.  That is not surprising, I suppose:  I went from a "decision making leader" to an "individual contributor".   To those that have not heard the language before, "individual contributor" is a fancy Human Resources term for "worker bee".  I get given specific tasks and told to do them instead of actively contributing at a higher level.

This has been more difficult than I had anticipated, to be honest with you.  All of sudden, one sees and knows of meetings that one is not involved in, meetings that one month ago were matters of regular attendance and importance.  My opinion in them mattered.  Now, I am not even on the fringes of them but rather patiently waiting for information or decisions from them to act on. 

It is quite a shift.

The only good news from this, I suppose, is that I no longer bear the responsibility of those decision either.

I am still getting inserted into projects and tasks and so eventually I think this sense of being "outside and at loose ends" will go away.  Still, the days of being a "decision making leader" are gone.  I am still working out how I feel about this.

4)  Most importantly, I have been approved to work one week from The Ranch.

This was a subject I have discussed with my previous HR director a year ago.  At the time, it was not right - even I conceded that in my previous position, working remotely was difficult at best and the environment was not such that I would have even felt comfortable suggesting it.

Enter The Plague of 2020 and a position change.

Suddenly, working remotely from the office is all the rage - and demonstrated as an effective tool.  I spoke with my new boss, who said "I cannot say no based on current events" and then cleared it with his boss as well.  As long as it "works", it is okay (and trust me, I will do everything in my power to make sure that it "works"). 

What does this mean? I get to be at The Ranch one week a month.  It will be nice to be able to see my parents more.  It will also be nice to be there more. I do not know that I will have a lot of time to start any projects, but (knowing me) something will come up. 

What happens if we finally go back to "The Office"?  We will burn that bridge when we come to it, although I am (again) thinking that will not happen for months.  By that time, this will be an established thing - and besides, the idea of working from home will have become ingrained in our culture.

So overall, the transition has been good so far:  I reduced e-mails and meetings, reduced stress, and am able to work from a place I love one week a month.

Kind of funny how God works things out sometimes.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Waiting For Rain

For the last two days I have been waiting for rain.

In theory, rain had been proposed by Accuhunch (Thanks, Reverend Paul!) due to surrounding weather conditions.  Rain at this time of year is not unusual. 

But it has not come, yet.

There is always the thought every evening: do I water, or do I wait for rain if forecast?  The rain saves me time and money of course - but if I wait to long and the rain does not come then I am left with another day without water (or me getting up and watering in the morning, which is never as ideal).  The days that are just outright sun and hot are no issue; it is those days that are "possible rain" that are the issue.

This is what the world feels like to me as well right now.

It feels like so much - economically, politically, socially, culturally - everything is on the edge of a torrential downpour.  It is not guaranteed, but there is enough of a chance that I keep looking up to the skies to see if something is coming.

It is - to me anyway - a hard mental space to be in, the constant "almost going to rain" while things will not seem to commit to the rain. 

But the clouds keep sliding in, and occasionally I hear the punctuated "thumps" of the rain as it hits the roof.

The thing that bothers, of course, is that unlike rain storms which come and go, this rain storm, when it starts, appears to have no end until torrential floods have washed away everything in its path, leaving only mud and the debris of life in its wake. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Behold A Host Arrayed In White

Over the last week, I have been humming a hymn I remembered from 30+ years ago when we attended a Lutheran Church.  I had the words about 40% right for the first stanza but did remember the tune.

Turns out I had the title wrong but the tune correct.  Enjoy.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Importance Of The Social Internet

Earlier this month The Art Of Manliness re-posted a podcast from 2019 entitled "Becoming A Digital Minimalist".  It is an interview with Cal Newport, who has written a book of the same name.  During the interview they discuss any number of topics:  what our new "digital" addiction is doing to our brain, why social media companies are at best questionable in their tactics and at worst evil (I have become convinced they are the latter), and how one can begin to live the life of a digital minimalist.  I do not often listen to podcasts - for some reason the medium does not work for me - but this is an hour that I would recommend you spend.

During the course of the interview, Newport makes an interesting - and arguably very salient point - about the difference between the Social Internet and Social Media.

In the beginning, he contends, the InterWeb was set up as a Social Internet.  Individuals went from site to site, commented, discussed, argued, and then carried on about their business.  Individuals expressed their thoughts and wrote their "web logs" (as we called them back in the day, to be shortened to "blogs").  People built sites and maintained them.

Over time, however, companies came in - Myspace, America Online - and began to offer people an InterWeb "ecosystem".  One no longer had to go out and find people and build a website and read and interact with them out there; that was hard.  Instead, one could go to a single point and find people and interaction.  The interaction at that time was very basic - discussion groups, server groups, individual pages that one could personalize - but the important part was that you were within the ecosystem, not outside of it.  All the "hard work" was done for you.

Fast forward to the current world:  We have replaced Myspace and America Online with The Book of Face and Tweeter, but the concept is the same:  come into our ecosystem and interact here instead of out there on the cold frontier of the InterWeb.  We can make everything flashy and easy for you to talk to others.

The problem - well vetted here and on other websites - is that by owning the ecosystem, the owner has begun to significantly curtail the type and amount of interactions.  People can no longer express their opinions or thoughts on particular things as they risk being banned by the Social Media system or being destroyed in an onslaught of words by other users in a place where it is easy enough to say what you want (when approved, of course) with no resulting consequences for your words or in some cases the resulting actions.

Newport argues that we need to get away from Social Media and back to the Social Internet.

I know - based on personal experience - that on the whole, it at least feels like the Social Internet is slowly dying.  It is hard to keep up a website or blog with new content, hard to make sure you are responding to comments (after all, it is just polite) - all made harder by the fact that for 99.9% of us, we derive no income from this and are only paid in the satisfaction of writing and the expression and discussion of ideas.  The InterWeb is littered with sites that have not continued and disappeared, including some that were my own favorites (R.I.P, Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report).

But I am coming to believe this is some of the most important work that we can be doing.

If you upkeep a website or blog, you are one small piece of forged metal in the chain to keep free discussion and free ideas alive.  If you read a website or blog and if you comment thoughtfuly, you are one small piece strand holding the concepts of intellectual debate and objective truth together.  If you are doing any of this - to paraphrase John Conner from Terminator: Salvation - "You are the Resistance".

Social Media is the new collectivism: everyone hauled together in specific locations and only allowed to do and say specific things, monitored by political commissars that decide what is right and acceptable and who is to be punished, a place where quotas of right doing and right thinking are enforced and where the individual is only considered valuable in that they serve the purpose of the whole.

By contrast, the Social Internet is the frontier, the Agora of Athens, the Senate House of Rome, the Mead hall of the Vikings, where free men and women greet each other, exchange ideas, treat each other with the respect and measure due free individuals in a free society, where the individual matters as much as whole, if not more.

Sometimes it can feel that writing or maintaining a blog or even reading and commenting on a blog is a sort of wasted effort, a hobby that seems to go nowhere and have no impact.  I would tell you, friends, be encouraged and strengthened to do so.  In a world of confined opinions and an electronic and supranational culture that seems to constantly be narrowing down its allowed views to an iron ring of acceptability, it is still within our power to act and strike a blow for free thought and freely expressed opinions.

Let us remember that we, as individuals, have the power to change the world, no matter how small or feeble our actions seem.  We need only play our part and keep to the course laid out by all free thinkers and men and women of boldness and ideals.

"Make no show of cowardice then on your part, seeing the greatness of the issues at stake, and I will  show that what I preach to others, I can practice myself."  Brasidas son of Tellis, Spartan, The Peloponnesian War

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Collapse XLVIII: Cold and Just Cold

25 November 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

I am pushing myself to get back into the habit of writing you again, even if I do not feel like I do not have a great deal to say. “The best way to build a habit is to keep it” should be a saying – perhaps it is, buried away in some minor tome that may never know see the light of day, or perhaps will emerge from these letters as a thought to as yet unheard of generations.

Our Winter has not fully started of course; it will not do so until the Winter Solstice. That said, the cold and snow have not been informed of this chronological aberration and blow as they always have – or at least they did. They have rather kindly given us an interruption in the ordinary program and currently it is “Just Cold”. You cannot appreciate the difference between “Just Cold” and “Cold” unless you have lived in a place where such a difference can be noted.

“Just Cold” means that there is work that can and must be done during the day beyond just the simple act of doing what one needs to do during the “Cold” period. Wood sweeps, of course – there is never really enough wood to be gathered (now, of all times, more than ever). I check the greenhouse for any signs of holes or leaks and stir up the wood fluff on the floor to work in the quail droppings as well as to lay down and integrate a new layer of covering (I have not fully thought out what I am going to do about this next year, but that will have to be figured out). The beehives get examined on the outside as well – I refilled the feeders to help sustain them in this cold; if the sun is out (even in this weather) they may come out for short periods of time to relieve themselves (we were not that “Just Cold” today, unfortunately).

Out of habit, I get my ladder and my rake out and pull off the snow on the roof if it is there out of force of habit (There was a bit this time); no sense in allowing it to build up and create structural damage especially now, when roofing services are few and far between (and, I suspect, getting a site call will be impossible). I check the outside of the house and the surrounding trees as well, looking for anything that may be a problem as specifically the worst time (at night, in a blizzard).

I would check the status of my transportation of course – battery, antifreeze, oil – but that has been relieved from list of things to do. Look at how the actions of others have given me back my time and resources.

Any sign of sun – like today – is a sign to get the charger out and start converting the wan “not quite Winter” sunlight that we get into battery storage and power. The unit works better in direct sun, so the best of all possible worlds is to put it on a table in the greenhouse (which gets as much exposure as I can) and swap batteries and devices in and out.

I rewarded myself for all of the labor with a package of instant coffee as a sort of treat for my industriousness. After having not had it in some months even the gritty under-cooked flavor was a simple pleasure, a reminder of happier times when such things were a regular occurrence.

It is possible, Lucilius, to be productive and even take simple pleasures in even the most difficult of circumstances. We need only focus on the here and now instead of the what has been or what we wish to find them – to find the productiveness and simple happiness of “Just Cold”.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A Few Words From...Étienne de la Boétie,

 Hat tip to Survival Blog.  This is simply too good not to share.

“Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good! You let yourselves be deprived before your own eyes of the best part of your revenues; your fields are plundered, your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away. You live in such a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own; and it would seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property, your families, and your very lives. 

All this havoc, this misfortune, this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is, for whom you go bravely to war, for whose greatness you do not refuse to offer your own bodies unto death. He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? 

You sow your crops in order that he may ravage them, you install and furnish your homes to give him goods to pillage; you rear your daughters that he may gratify his lust; you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows — to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance; you yield your bodies unto hard labor in order that he may indulge in his delights and wallow in his filthy pleasures; you weaken yourselves in order to make him the stronger and the mightier to hold you in check. 

From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.” – Étienne de la Boétie, Discours de la servitude volontaire (The Politics of Obedience)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Why Is The Church So Ineffective Today?

The Western church has abandoned its call to be salt and light in the world.

Somewhere along the way - in the last twenty years or so - the church surrendered the idea of speaking life into society - based on the concept that society is made of individuals, and individuals are in need of God's forgiveness and repentance - to the idea of blending into society and creating change from within.

This mirrors somewhat the idea of amillennialism (for those of you that dabble in Christian eschatology), the idea that there is not a millennial reign of Christ but rather that the redeemed usher in the Kingdom of God through their recreation of society in God's image.  The Kingdom, in this case, is a sort of good infection (to use C.S. Lewis' terms) that ultimately creates the sort of society that God can return to - a sort of spiritual "yeast" transferred throughout the whole dough.

This is a lovely, heartfelt concept.  It is also utterly wrong.

Christ rejects it.  Nowhere in the New Testament does He ever give the impression that society - as a whole - will be redeemed or grow as His Kingdom grows.  Yes, he does use the image of the mustard tree which "grows to fill the whole earth", but He never suggests that the spiritual Kingdom will become the equivalent of the societal Kingdom (pending His return, of course - See Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Revelation).

History rejects it.  Any society built on the idea of solely creating a better society without spiritual renewal has crashed.  Server examples include The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution and resulting Soviet Union, The Chinese Revolution and resulting People's Republic of China, The Killing Fields of Cambodia.  The wisdom of man always involves man's interpretation of what is good and right, which is subject to man's interpretation of what "good" really is without an objective standard.

Why?  My theory is simply that we have embraced the world.  We have decided that, like the world, there is no objective source of truth - The Bible in the case of Christian Church - and as such, in lieu of having a message of truth which is preceded by an accurate assessment and knowledge of our condition (e.g., sinners), all we have to offer is a message of fitting in and trying to remodel things from the inside.  "If we fix it" the church seems to think, "they will accept our message". 

This seems to me a great deal like the thought of the adolescent boy (oh, how I remember those days) thinking "If I just do this and this and this, she will like me."  That almost never worked in practice, of course - she never ended up "liking me" - but somehow I continued to think this was a model for success.

Can an individual or a group change a society via working within the system?  Of course they can .  One fine example would be William Wilberforce, who spent his live working to end slavery in the British Empire (of course, keep in mind that the British Empire was at least nominally Christian and as such, there was some kind of consensus to work with).  And the examples I listed above of revolutions gone bad demonstrate that a small dedicated band of people can really accomplish anything.

But here is the difference:  those small bands of people or individuals who are not Christian have nothing which holds them back from acting in any way possible to reach their end, and when the end justifies the means almost anything is permissible.  For the Christian (in theory), they are either bound to act within the limits of God's Word (thus objective truth) or to bend that truth in order to be "relevant" and fit into the world around them, which at best dulls their impact and at worst makes them the proverbial "useful idiots" that enable the destruction of everything they claim to stand for.

I do not have a right answer here, or at least not yet:  the matter is a weighty one on which the whole of human history devolves (as measured in the lives of individuals) and it deserves a better answer than an introductory essay by a man who is neither a trained theologian or a trained philosopher.  But it does seem critical to me in that, in this time of the weakening of societal bonds, economic instability, and a great sense throughout the land of "That which is not forbidden is permitted (and very little is forbidden)", the church has effectively disappeared as an independent force for proclaiming salvation and has turned into little more than another social movement which is less concerned with salvation and more concerned with being part of society.

Monday, July 20, 2020

On Considering A New Church

I have to be honest that I am finding myself on the downside of engagement with my current church body.

I am sure that The Plague of 2020 has not helped anything, of course.  We have not met since March of this year and the church has gone completely online.  While they have made the best of it, I find that watching church via TV is hardly the sort of engaging activity that church was meant to be.

But it goes a bit deeper than that.

While we initially joined because 1) The Ravishing Mrs. TB is employed there and 2) the sermons were truly more engaging, what I have found over time is that, simply, I miss the structure of a traditional church.  They hold to some elements of traditional Christianity - communion at least once a month, the Lord's prayer occasionally, the Apostle's Creed occasionally - but for the rest are what one would consider to be a modern, non-denominational church. 

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, of course. I do enjoy more upbeat music - but what I am finding I do not enjoy is the same sort of songs (I refuse to call them hymns) which largely seem to revolve around us instead of God (And repeat themselves.  Endlessly.).  I do enjoy slightly more modern sermons - except that I am finding that they tend to mirror the themes that are important to the pastor, not necessarily the words that are actually present in the Bible.  I enjoy the church - but I am finding that I no longer fully fit in with what the church is and where it wants to go.

But the biggest question I find myself having to answer is "Am I a better or worse Christian from my time here?"  The answer, I think, is no.

And that is an answer that simply cannot be allowed to stand.

So what am I doing?  Well, due to The Plague I cannot really go anywhere - but I can do a lot of online research and reading.  So I am experimenting. I am thinking deeply - or trying to think deeply, anyway - about what sort of Church I need to be in based on what I know my interests and my weaknesses to be (for example, I like tradition.  I like theology.  A "high" church service feeds my soul and its view of God's glory in a way that an ordinary church service does not).  I am trying some different personal practices to see if those engage me more fully.

It is worth a consideration as (if and when we make the transition) this is likely the last time I will do this before I die.  So I want to be certain.

But all I know right now is that - sooner or later - I will have to leave where I am now to preserve my faith or see it slowly slip away under a rising sense of disengagement and dis-ease.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Plague of 2020: Economic Impacts III (Winners)

In every economic downturn, there are always winners.  Even in the worst of the worst, some things still do better - or merely "less badly"  than others.

1)  Grocery Stores: Up to the point that a supply chain completely collapses, grocery stores and grocery store like stores (the Big Box Supply Stores) are critical as almost no-one can supply their own food anymore.  Even when almost everything else was shut down, grocery stores stayed open.  These stores and the chains that support them - trucking, warehouses - will continue to work as long as there is food to supply and fuel to move the goods.

2)  Food Suppliers:  This takes any number of different forms, be they chicken processors or farms or bakeries.  But just like with grocery stores, they have a desired good and as long as there is a market and fuel to get it there, they will be a demand.

3)  Used Cars Sales:  Not really a company but a portion of an industry, the spreading of any number of plagues via close quarters make public transit a less desirable option.  Add to this the fact that for many, new cars have rapidly been priced out of the market, and suddenly used cars become an item of interest and value - perhaps not at the market price they once commanded, but surely more than new automobiles.

4)  Streaming Entertainment:  As many were/are trapped in their homes, they did the 20th and 21st Century quick reaction:  They reached for their remote controls and turned on their devices to watch shows.  Suddenly, the great transfer from movies theaters to streaming seems like a reality.  This works, of course - as long as the streaming services continue to have new content to offer (like many other industries, much of the movie and television industry is localized in certain areas and shut down as well).   This will work until, like the sports stations currently, all there is to watch is the equivalent of championships that occurred 7 years ago.  Right up to that point (or a complete loss of power), people will turn to their streaming devices much as Americans once turned to the movie theaters, to forget their troubles for a while.

5) Hardware and Home Improvement Stores:  People now have lots of time at home and an inability to go places (or lack the income to do so).  Improving where you live at at time like this is one of the activities that can be done with only the cost of the materials (and your labor).  We have certainly done so here, painting several rooms.

6)  Independent Living Companies:  This is a category (invented by me) to cover things as varied as seed companies, rural living companies (like Lehman's), and any sort of company that provides products or services that help one live in some way by becoming less dependent on the grid. As the economy continues to do poorly (and in my opinion, this will take years to dig out from), more and more people will - by necessity if not choice - have to start learning to do such things for themselves.

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Plague of 2020: Economic Impacts II (Sports)

More prophetical prognostication (Is that a phrase?  It should be, and I hereby claim it) of The Plague of 2020 on Sports:

Sports, at least on the professional scale, is an ingrained, assumed part of our culture.  Its tendrils go into so much:  live events, radio, television, the InterWeb, retail (both brick and mortar and InterWeb).  It is ubiquitous in our conversations and in our lives.

As a large public event, of course, sports is doomed as long as The Plague is here.  Perhaps one can go with a social distancing aspect of the game or - as has been proposed - without any fans at all (based on the social distancing requirements, it would be something like every other row and every other seat, not ideal from a financial point of view.  Plus, of course, longer lines and wearing a mask outdoors for 3-5 hours at a time.  Hardly enticing).  And that is the Tier 1 Professional sports - Tier 2, amateur leagues and minor leagues, would be in even worse shape. 

Who is impacted?  The players, not so much (at least immediately).  But everyone associated with the players:  coaches, trainers, sports doctors, those people that carry the water bottles around on the sidelines.  Anyone involved with the media sporting aspect - writers, producers, announcers, camera and sound folk, commentators - after all, how long can you discuss sports that happened two years ago?  And for the venues themselves, those that man the parking lots, food stands, stairways as ushers, groundskeepers, janitorial staff, those nice people in the jackets that I can never figure out precisely what they do but are obviously employed by the venue - again, all impacted by no sports occurring.

College programs are impacted as well, both directly by the Plague itself (colleges are already calling their fall seasons or greatly reducing them) and by the longer term impacts:  if this goes on long enough, there will be no drafts, or they will decrease in their importance.  Without a professional league, where will these players go (I sincerely hope that they have been diligently studying as well)?  And lest you think this is merely a sports problem, popular college sports can fund entire departments at a college for a year.  What happens when that money disappears?

Yet another impacted group is the local tax payers, who have (in many places) funded these very large sports venues with tax dollars.  If these were bonds, the tax payers will continue to pay for years on a depreciating asset in a time of decreased income and inflation.  If loans, the tax payers will continue to pay interest to a lender for an asset that they will not use or benefit from (unless they refuse to pay - which then impacts the lender...).

Another impacted area is that of all other sports not at the professional or college level. I cannot read this as well as I am not sure how it is being implemented.  In a true "social distancing" situation, any sport that involves any sort of physical contact would be discontinued.  This includes, in no particular order, football, baseball, basketball, soccer.  Other sports - volleyball, track and field - would not be as impacted but would require some additional safeguards (for example, having fixed locations in volleyball or running races being "timed" victories by sending the runners out in individual packets or all other track and field athletes moving through a line and then retreating to their socially distanced waiting areas).  Golf might fall into this as well, with single players out on the links, one per hole (groups, of course, only with socially distancing and masks - and how fun is 4-5 hours in the sun in masks going to be?).

So much of sports relies on close contact, something which is intrinsic to the nature of competition and risky in the nature of the Plague.

Taken to its logical extreme, lock downs, social distancing, and personal protection requirements will to some extent - partially or completely - enervate almost all sports to the point that at best they become much smaller in number and operation (to remain economically viable) or effectively disappear completely.

There is another mitigating factor, something which sports has not fully accounted for either:  we have been (at least in the US) without professional sports for some 4 months now.  And for the most part, we have managed to survive and find other things to fill our time.  I wonder if, having broken the habit, many are going to be willing to reinvest their time and energy in something that that they have replaced or - given the cost of packages to watch and listen to such events - will be able to afford it.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Plague of 2020: Economic Impacts I

One of the websites I have followed for some years now is, which is an aggregator of layoffs, closings, and bankruptcies.  As you can imagine, it has been rather populated with bad news over the last few months.

As I have been following this and the continuing economic wreckage that is The Plague of 2020, I got to thinking about when - and if - we finally "come out" of this, what the world of business and economics will look like based on what we have seen so far.  I do not know that this qualifies as "fun", but for me it is an interesting thought exercise.  So my thoughts, or even semi-guesses, on what the world of business will look like next year (Warning:  I am not a trained economist, merely an observer):

1)  Offices - Office space will be widely available through two reasons.  The first (and most unfortunate) is lay offs due to decreased business needs.  The second is that many companies have discovered that many people can work from home.  This not only reduces the company's overhead for office space, but also reduces the company's spend on those common items like electricity, water, common area expenses, and things as minor as coffee and supplies (which are all passed on to the employee working at home, by the by).  Commercial Real Estate Investment companies and landlords will suffer as a result of this.

2)  Restaurants - If this goes on long enough and we continue with the "on again, off again" model for indoor activities, continue to look for restaurants to shut down.  But a potential additional outcome is the growth of the "Storefront" restaurant (also the take out restaurant, although I prefer the British term "Take Away").  Why should  restaurant pay for costly real estate, utilities, and employees when they can just pay for a kitchen and an area to pay and pick up?  Yes, many locales still allow patio or outdoor dining, but that only works when people want to be outdoors:  no good in the summer in the American Southwest or in the Winter almost anywhere not in the American Southwest.  Again, costly real estate.  Commercial Real Estate Investment companies, landlords, servers/dishwashers, and certain kinds of suppliers (I cannot imagine the high end alcohol restaurant suppliers are doing well in this) will suffer.

3)  Personal care (hair salons, nail salons, sports massage) - these may very well start to move towards smaller, private institutions with people beginning to work out of their home or just smaller footprints overall .  The 10 stall hair salon may become a thing of the past (again, paying for real estate); the storefront hair salon where an appointment is made for a single operator (like the old style barbershops) or someone converting their garage into a small salon seems more likely.  Again, Commercial Real Estate Investment companies and landlords most at risk, those hair/nail experts or masseuses that cannot find a way to flex most at risk.

4)  Retail - This has seemingly become a complete wasteland, if you have at all been tracking the stores that are going away.  Lots of large name companies are going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which here (in the US), means that they are reorganizing, not necessarily going out of business (but lots of folks just going out of business).  Shopping is no longer a social activity and given the environment of economic uncertainty, lots of people are just not shopping (but are paying down their credit card debts, so good on everone).  Also, depending on the industry, demand has dried up (not a lot of call for business suits or evening gowns at the moment).

In my own household, the model is very much if someone is going to a store, it is because they know exactly what they are going for (e.g., they now all shop like me).  No more just rambling to see what is out there.  Out, into the store to collect what is needed, and then straight back home - or online, shopping, of course.

Hard to say that there will be any good news here.  Commercial Real Estate companies, landlords, property managers, retail employees, shipping companies - everyone is impacted here.  There will be a growth in order fulfillment and delivery services for online companies of course (we can argue what that means later), but I suspect that this will not offset the other.

5) Group Activities - Here I am thinking about things that are largely entertainment based:  bars, restaurants (but discussed above), indoor activity venues (bowling/arcades/movie theaters/general theaters/concert halls/trampoline parks), that sort of thing.  And here, again, the news will not be good.

These require the same sorts of things that restaurants need: foot traffic, a reliable environment that always allows them to be open, disposable income that allows people to go there, and a willingness for people to be in close proximity to each other.  The first three of those are at risk and the fourth in varying degrees, depending on where you are.  Additionally, there is a fifth issue:  these sorts of venues typically involve large capital upfront outlays and maintenance so their overall costs would tend to be higher.

I suspect the longer this goes, the more and more of these we will see disappear without anything to replace them (the risk of reopening by a new owner will be too high).  They may never completely disappear, but what will undoubtedly be the new social distancing regime will mean that they can have fewer folks overall and those folks will have to plan ahead far more in advance.  Most people will not make the effort.

Again, Commercial Real Estate companies, landlords, line employees, suppliers (largely food and alcohol suppliers I suspect) most impacted.

This is not meant to be a complete list but it is telling to me that certain groups - Real Estate Holders and those involved with real estate, retail/entry level employees, and supply chains - are possibly the most impacted.  If I was in those industries, I would be seriously looking for a new career.

What do you think?  Any impacts I missed?  Any sub-groups I failed to call out?

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

102 F

Summer's Grinding Heat
causes me to wonder if 
Winter's but a dream.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A Sort of Progress

Yesterday, kind of surprisingly to me, The Ravishing Mrs. TB posted a statement on The Book of Face (she is there a lot more than I am these days) that knitting, sewing, macrame, counted cross stitching, cheese and yogurt making, herb and vegetable gardening, cooking, baking, and composting were all going on in our household over the last week and  that if we could just learn to make soap, we would be in a position to move "to the woods" (by the woods, she means the Ranch of course).

Now, I have enough experience to know that this is not hardly at all enough to actually even get partially off the grid and away from civilization (I read your blogs.  I know what is involved).  And I also (freely) acknowledge that this does not cover the fact that everyone still likes their access to Streaming Movies and a plethora of different food options within a 15 minute drive.  But I did find it somewhat hopeful that this sort of thinking was going on at all.

Sometimes we do not think our examples of living a different sort of life get noticed and we carry on with them, pleasing ourselves.  That said, perhaps sometimes things rub off on others around us in ways that we do not know.  It is a bit of a boost in a year that has largely been devoid of such things.

So I will continue to make my cheese and yogurt and garden (hoping against hope I get some sort of yield) and find other sorts of things - small things - that bring some level of tech free entertainment and independence.  And believe that somehow, somewhere, this is leading to a greater future more in line with where I would like us to be.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Plague of 2020 And Schedules

One of the great changes - perhaps the greatest change - since the arrival of The Plague and its accompanying change in schedule - is the fact that my actual life schedule is approaching that of a "normal" human being.

The Cistercian Order had (and perhaps still has) a rather logical breakdown in the way a person should live their lives:  8 hours of prayer, 8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep.  Substitute "living" for "prayer" for we non-religious, and you have the makings of a good life.

So where has my schedule fallen apart in the past?  Work.  It has always been work. 

The minimum full time workday for anyone in modern society, hourly or salary, is 8 hours.  Add to that - for the salaried - that one is paid to complete tasks, not just for hours work.  Without almost any effort at all, that 8 hours immediately spreads out.

My typical work day - pre- Plague - saw me leaving home at 0700, commuting to work (shortest commute in 24 years, only 20 minutes) - and working until 1800 or so.  Lunch, once upon a time a separate endeavor, was crammed into the actual work day at my desk.  Commuting - if I left at 1800 - took another 20-30 minutes, so we will say 1830.  For those counting along at home, that is a little more than 8 hours.

This of course, impacted everything else.  I would then try to have a life outside of work, which would then eat into my time allocated for sleep.  On the whole I ended up tired and unrewarded in my personal life.

The Plague has brought things much closer to a form of balance.

The commute time has been the greatest change - it has changed to < 1 minute from 20 minutes as I amble my way to my new workspace, a hastily converted craft table which is now my effective "home office".  That alone has given me back an hour of my day.  Additionally, not being in the office has helped in another aspect as it is much more difficult for people to just call in or pop in for a quick question.  All contact is completely managed through a computer, which is there for my convenience - it is much easier to manage communication through a screen.

My work day is not quite 8 hours yet on a regular basis - although there are days that it has been! -, but it looks a great deal closer to the ideal - and that has included a period of time which we can call "lunch" but now includes a period set aside every day for training or literature review.  It is also forcing me to work more efficiently, which is in itself also not a bad development.

Now, to actually intake into my consciousness that I am one of those people that really requires 8 hours of sleep a night...

My Life's Schedule In The Plague of 2020

We have now passed week 15 of Isolation in The Plague of 2020.

Our lives have taken a certain sort of schedule to them.  The Ravishing Mrs. TB goes in to the office twice a week for work.  I have set up shop in the craft area with my computer, where I type away unless I have a meeting in which case I go into the bedroom to converse.  

Na Clann wander through the kitchen at various times of the morning (ah, the joy of being a student on a rather prolonged summer break) for coffee and then food.

Grocery shopping did happen weekly on Mondays until it was realized that Sunday evenings were the less crowded day to shop and thus that now seem to be the schedule.  At least one other time a week, one or more venture out for some other sort of supply -clothing, crafts - that was not available at the grocery store.

I venture out to the gym and for Iai class and come straight home.  Once a week I go to my volunteer job, get fuel, and perhaps venture out to my local used bookstore.  Beyond that, I never leave home except for walks around the neighborhood.

It strikes me as odd that this has become the sum total of my traveling existence.

When do I think things will change?  I really have not the slightest clue.  My best estimate at this point is that we will not be returning to the office before the end of the year if at that, and most likely not after that (I suspect the Winter season will see a resurgence of The Plague.  Add that to the Flu and no sensible company will want anyone back in the office).  So maybe call it next March or April.  All of the precautions will like stay in place until then.  To the mind's eye, in such an environment everyone that is out there becomes a potential vector of infection.  

But would I change?  In reality this sort of life - with only the change of not working in the office - was one that I had already embraced before any of this happened. I might run out to the store a little more frequently for this or that, but that was all.  This sort of living encompasses all of my life as it is was currently configured.  And very little has changed beyond that.

In reviewing this, I realize how much I was already pulling away from the larger social world.  The Plague of 2020 just accelerated a trend that already existed.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Out Of Sorts

Is it wrong to confess to you that I feel a bit lost and out of sorts?

Coming back to "work" has been not quite the new adventure that I imagined it would be - at the moment, new tasks are slowly coming online and all of my previous tasks have been transferred over.  This is, I suppose, not really all that different than starting a new job anywhere else - that initial first period of getting up to speed - except that in this case, perhaps mistakenly, I feel I should be more up to speed than I currently am.

Not that I am regretting the choice - I got pulled into a discussion from what would be my previous life this week and 30 minutes of that discussion was enough to remind me (rather forcibly) that this change really was for the best.  Even I had wanted to stay, my heart is not longer in that line of work.

But what is it in, then?

That is what I find myself slogging through at the moment.  I feel...well, lost.

The world around me is changing and morphing in ways I can scarcely understand or take in.  My religion  has gone off into places that 20 years ago I would have never thought possible.  My job, as mentioned, has become completely different.  The future I thought I was planning for is not the future that arrived at all, which means that the future that I might plan for 20 years hence will be even more different.    It feels in some ways as if the world - my world - has rapidly collapsed in on itself in any number of ways since I came home from Japan in February of this year, be it my job, The Plague and all of its social and economic impacts, even just the world in general.

My dreams this week were all of me been in circumstances and situations but not having any ability to change or influence them.  Art reflecting life indeed.

The difficulty- the thing I am trying to fight my way out of - is that I feel like any change I might make, any additional activities I might undertake, anything I might do will impact precisely nothing in the larger picture.  That I have somehow now enter a racecourse that has no options and no directions except one - one I cannot see and one that I cannot change.

Perhaps this is all idle thought on my side and will change soon enough.  But it puzzles me - I have never felt so powerless to change my condition of feeling out of sorts.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

The Collapse XLVII: On Being Alone

21 November 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Well, I have indeed been a slug-a-bed: no communication for two weeks? You must have though me dead or worse (given the current state of affairs, death is not really the worst thing that can occur).

Not dead, thankfully. Saddened, perhaps. May I even say a bit depressed? I had not given the thought I should have to what the impact of being shut away from everyone for long periods of time can do to the soul.

I have lived here long enough to anticipate and know the winters, which do not lend themselves to the sorts of “outings” that one finds in less snowy and cold climes. I have also lived here long enough to know that the opportunities for socialization remain much less than in the urban areas – as you will recall, this was actually one of the reasons that I moved here.

What I had not anticipated – thought about perhaps, even pondered – was what happens when civilization effectively hits the “Pause” button.

Having the option to go out or not go out, to shop or not to shop, to listen and watch or turn off, is quite a different thing than not having the option to do those things at all. Even before, there was always the option to go to the town or city for shopping and a bookstore and a meal or coffee, to turn on the radio or the InterWeb at my leisure to listen to the news of the day or music or anything that happened to catch my fancy.

None of that exists now, of course. Certainly not the cities and shopping and dining and only occasionally can one find a radio station transmitting – and they hardly transmit the sorts of things that raise the spirit. The InterWeb still occasionally sparks on as well – but again, who wants bad news from all over when one has bad news at home?

I would say I am fortunate in that I have a community so I occasionally still see someone – but even that is becoming more and more of a rare event. Yes, the snow on the ground does not move things forward, but going out represents time and energy and calories that one might need later – as well as the risk of sickness or accident which, with no immediate medical aid available, presents its own sets of risks.

It may sound to you that I am complaining of my conditions – I am not. I am extremely fortunate even still: I have a roof over my head and heat and water and food with every belief that I shall make it to the other side of this event (as opposed to living in an urban area, where I imagine my chances would be much worse). What I am doing is coming to the realization that keeping ourselves “bunkered in” while the world moves on outside of us does something to the soul, something that I wonder if any of us anticipated outside of researchers that studied such things and published in obscure journals.

It is one thing to isolate by choice. It is another to be isolated not by choice, by command or by circumstances. The first is based on freedom of action. The second is based on the tyranny of circumstances which gives neither an end date nor a hint of relief.

We may yet survive this Lucilius. What I wonder is what we will find – not in terms of crumbling ruins and defunct technology – but in terms of the souls of those that remain. Will we seek out community again? Will we know what that means? Or will we continue to only have small touch points as we have forgotten how and what it means to socialize?

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Dating The Plague of 2020, Round Two

Did you ever have one of those dating relationships where you felt like things were not going well and were not going to end well, but somehow you stuck with it in the unsustainable hope that things were somehow - dare I use the word "magically" - going to get better?  That is what the world feels like right now to me:  this constant sense that things are somehow just not quite right and are not getting "more right" any time in the future.

The lurch back and forth between opening and non-opening is one example.  Things are going fine - wait, things are not going so fine so hold on.  We are not sure when things are really going to go fine, so plan - but do not really plan (if you are business that depends on knowing what the situation will be, this is a killer, and something that will quickly convince you to just stay out of business).  And oh, once we decide to open things up, better get out there and spend, spend, spend because you know - support your local economy and all.

Or the reality that the shutdowns continue to have an impact.  Borepatch has a rather interesting simple state of the world note, where a bike shop that has been in business for 50 years is going out of business simply because they can no longer get any parts because the supply chain has given out from the shutdowns world wide.  And another contributor on his site, notes the same things in home improvement store.  These are the sorts of things you do not notice until you go to use them yourselves.

People have asked when I think I am going "back to the office".  I tell them I sincerely doubt it will be before next year.  My math is simple:  We are now at July.  We are in a place that has just gone back under the lock down so I expect that we will continue to "work from home" for much longer - and if we reach November, that is practically the end of the year with vacations.  And although the death rate from The Plague seems to be sinking, it still has potential long term impacts we are continuing to come to understand so who wants to take the risk?  (Add to that the fact that by the time Winter comes back around we will have perhaps the second wave to deal with as well as our regularly scheduled flu season.)

By that time we will have been "out of the office" for 9 months - can anyone, given what time of year it will be, think that coming back together in the depths of winter will be a good idea?

Add to this the general unrest, uncertainty around personal economics ("Do I have a job?  Will I have a job?"), the eventual inflation that will hit when our propensity to invent money out of thin air catches up with us and the counter-strike when someone suggests we need to "raise taxes" to pay for all this, and all of a sudden that highly uncomfortable relationship becomes one that we cannot dump quickly enough.

I will not say it will not be interesting, because as someone who observes the folly of nations and states this will be writing grist for the mill for years to come.  I will say that, if we are so fortunate to come out of it, it will scar generations the way that one bad relationship scars our love life for ever.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Lavandula Bombus

Evening Bumblebee,
 gathers sunset's pollen as
full moon gazes down.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Branch And Flow

If you have been a reader of this blog for any period of time, you know that one of the great struggles of my life has been the fact that for the last 11 years I have been a number of states removed from where I actually want to be - The Ranch - and even longer years - 24 if you have your calendar handy - since it was more than a 30 minute drive.  This has been a constant background theme to my life, this wanting to be in one place - nay, feeling that one is called to one place - while being away somewhere else. 

It leaves a hole in your soul, given enough time and energy.  I understand that not everyone has this particular sense of being tied to one place, especially a place which one may not have been at or around for years - but for me at least, this place is a refuge from the world, the sort of thing that (living in an urban area as I currently do) I see people crying out for in theory, while in practice all they do is continue to double down on a life style that is resource intensive, rather full of people, and pushing out the darkness, silence, and nature that they proclaim they want more of - in other words,  the hypocrisy of acting one way while proclaiming another.

This thought of taking a different path became bothersome to me over the last week - for various and sundry reasons the need to be back here has become more intensive, not less, over the more recent years and has weighed heavily on me.  It weighed heavily on me as I walked earlier this week and came across The Creek.

The Creek, as I have mentioned, does not itself run across our property (would that it did) but is on the deeded road to our property - thus, it is something that we will always have access to.  It is a creek similar to the one I grow up near as a child:  not particular deep or full, running across stones and mud and gravel, filled with blackberries on either side drinking in the moisture, under tall oaks and pines, inhabited by water skimmers and crawdads (if these are called Water Skaters and Crayfish by you, it is not so among us rural peasantry).  It has a small island accessible from the road with a couples of skips across stones and a gravel bar, inhabited by a lone pine and ferns and some sort of flowering grass and the resident blackberry (now cut out):

As I sat there, looking around and listening to the stream burbling away and feeling (as I often do) this sense of being conflicted, I happened to pay attention to the culverts you see there - three in total, running the water under the stream and into the pool until it makes its way around the island.  Three separate entrances leading to two flows.  And then I looked downstream:

After the island, there is only one stream heading out.  The flows are joined and one cannot tell what the difference is between the two.

In this, I suddenly realized, is wisdom.

Streams separate and flow in different directions, sometimes in ways and paths we had not intended.  But at some point, they come back together as well and from that point on, it is impossible to tell the difference.

Plan, yes.  Do what you need to, of course.  But do not surrender the belief that every stream, every branch, leads away from where you are trying to get to.  The stream continues to flow on.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

A Few Words From...Demosthenes

"Virtue?  You runnagate; what have you or your family to do with virtue?  How do you distinguish between good and evil report?  Where and how did you qualify as a  moralist?  Where did you get your right to talk about education?  No really educated man would use such language about himself, but would rather blush to hear it from others; but people like you, who make stupid pretensions to the culture of which they are utterly destitute, succeed in disgusting everybody whenever they open their lips, but never in making the impression they desire" - "On The Crown", 330 B.C.

"...that a democracy is the most unstable and capricious thing in the world, like a restless wave of the sea ruffled by the breeze as chance will have it.  One man comes, another goes; no one attends to, or even remembers, the common weal." - "On The Embassy", 343 B.C.

(Demosthenes Practicing Oratory, Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouy)

Saturday, July 04, 2020

2020 - The Declaration Of Independence

Since 2012 I have been publishing the Declaration of Independence every year on July 4th.  I have to admit that I post it this year with some reluctance as we seem farther away than ever from the having a unified nation-state, which was one of the points of the document.  I post it this in year in hopes that all can reflect on what being united actually means. 

Or, perhaps, what independence and freedom really mean.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the  conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776

Friday, July 03, 2020

A Summer's Walk 2020 Walk Part II

Today's walk was North towards the Upper Meadow.

You will remember these gentlemen from yesterday...

The Upper Meadow:

 Same spot as the previous picture, looking down towards the Lower Meadow:

The Upper Meadow from above:

I have no idea what the actual name of this plant is.  I have always called it Tarweed. I remember a time when I was very young and my father and my great uncle and I would go around the property and he would just do controlled burns on this.

Surprised two turkey hens and their brood:

The gentleman that keeps the cattle has a small lumber yard and sawmill on the property.  Thanks to the cutting for the power line clearance, there are plenty of logs:

The Upper Corner:

I know I do this every year, but the area in front of the fence line has been mowed and managed.  The area behind the fence line has not.  Guess which part will go up with the intensity of a furnace in the event of a forest fire?  This is why you manage forests, people:

Looking out towards the Upper Meadow: