sic transit gloria Saban

More fool me, I gave up on Alabama football when Mike Shula limped out of town and the Tide went through the foolishness of dancing around RichRod for a month before wildly overpaying for a floundering NFL coach who’d won a title at LSU a few years earlier. And I thought that even if he did have a ring, hell, I’m not sure Bear Bryant was worth $4 million a year.

Well don’t I feel like a jackass.

Six national championships, the same as the Bear, and in fewer seasons. Four Heisman trophy winners, where previously there were none. At all. The first 14-win season, the first 15-win season, and most importantly, success in an era unlike anything the Bear ever had to deal with: 24/7 sports talk radio, social media, a conference title game and then a four-team playoff (fully half the Bear’s championships were awarded before the bowl game!), and recruiting 365 days a year with the kind of scholarship limitations and NCAA scrutiny that simply didn’t exist before the 1980s.

Saban did it with recruiting, obviously: schematic advantage is nice but if you can put 20 new five-star players on the roster every year, talent will eat schematic advantage alive. Not that they couldn’t scheme; Alabama started off with the man-ball Neanderthal smashmouth game and when the spread-hurry came in he asked “is this what we want football to be?” and tacitly answers “aight, bet” before turning Alabama into a lightning offensive powerhouse. Much like the Bear – and in a decade less time – he pivoted his entire philosophy and won just as much with the new one as the old.

And to be honest, that’s probably a big part of why he’s getting out now. Starting next year, it’s going to be a longer road yet to a title – a 12 team playoff, meaning possibly 16 games to a finish, which puts you where the NFL was for years. And speaking of the NFL, the players get paid now, but there are no multi-year contracts, no salary cap, no cost containment or long-term certainty, and now you have to re-recruit your entire roster every year and hope that you can poach more from everyone else than they’re poaching from you. And while Bama spent wildly on the things you could legally spend on – assistant coaches, facilities, equipment, stadium improvements – now there’s an entire new level of spending required, which means more fundraising and glad-handing boosters and activity that takes away from the recruiting and game day prep and actual coaching to win those now-16 games.

College football shifted hard and broke something in the BCS-CFP era. The game in 1991 was very different from where we got to by 2014, never mind now, and at some point, when you have your own Crimson Infinity Gauntlet, what more do you possibly have to prove at age 72? It’s time to call it a day. Bear was three years dead by your age.

Have a Coke and a Little Debbie and hit some unsuspecting kid at the Publix with a Deez Nuts joke, Coach. You’ve earned it.

time to face the guns

The last time the Republicans took a loss with anything approximating grace was 1976, two years after Watergate with a candidate who had never won anything bigger than his Congressional district in Michigan, and with the party in turmoil over which was was up. Since then, they have dismissed Bill Clinton as illegitimate because he didn’t win 50% (despite having the most votes), Barack Obama for being a secret Muslim and not a citizen (despite being Congregationalist and born to a US citizen in a Honolulu hospital), and Joe Biden for having the temerity to get more votes than Dear Leader Trump after four years of incompetence harnessed to Russian cuckoldry.

We are where we are because a plurality of Republicans would rather embrace Nazis than have to take the L.

The conservative takeover that took off like a rocket in 1980 was in many ways the product of the end of the postwar boom in the 1970s. Time was, everyone was swimming in money, and a top marginal tax rate of 70% was not so much of a big deal – especially if it means guns and butter and free in-state tuition and that one high school graduate could support a family and home ownership and even a pool all the way to his [sic] pension-fueled retirement. Then the economy turned south, other countries caught up to us, and we embarked on our long fifty-year experiment in using bigotry to protect wealth. And with every reversal in fortune, the wealthy and bigoted doubled down.

Because this really is an existential crisis for them. If you can’t accumulate all the money you want without having to do your bit for society, if you can’t shit on everyone who isn’t just like you, then what is the point of living? It was a lot more quiet in years gone by, but then, once forced to admit people of color were human, gay people were human, trans folk are human – well, the reason the arguments sound the same every time out are because they all boil down to “I shouldn’t have to acknowledge that there are other people if they aren’t just like me.”

There’s no easy way out. There are obvious moves that could be taken if there were enough votes for it – the Wyoming Rule to expand the House (and thus the Electoral College, and thus cripple the rural chokehold on politics), the expansion of a rigged Supreme Court to 13 (one Justice per circuit, as was the original aim), the admission of new states – we are currently in the longest stretch of our national history with no new Representatives, Supreme Court seats or states. But for this to work, something like two-thirds or more of the country would have to agree that no matter what, shoring up democracy and breaking the impact of an authoritarian minority is the most critical issue in American politics and everything else – nationalized health care, lower taxes, foreign policy, whatever – has to be subordinated to making sure that the person who the most people voted for is the one who wins. No more gerrymandering your way to control of state courts, no more electing the person with millions fewer votes because they had a football stadium lead in three specific states.

Because if it happens again – if more people vote for a Democrat but a Republican wins anyway, and is allowed to start doing what these current Republicans do – you have to consider what happens when the levee breaks. A system that doesn’t work any more is not worth saving, but you may not like what comes after – or survive it. And yet, no matter how ugly the prospect is of starting over, sometimes you don’t have a choice.

The reason why every election is the most important election of our lives is because all the Democrats can be right now is a finger in the dike. They need 218 in the House, a reliable 51 in the Senate (with votes to remove the filibuster), and a majority on the Supreme Court, or all the President can be is the last line of defense. People ask “well why come the Republicans can do things?” Because they don’t actually want to do anything. They want to leave the states alone to be as backward and bigoted as they please, they want to go on Fox News and own the libs, they want to raise infinite money and they want to appoint judges, but actual policy work of the sort that has to get through Congress? Nothing. They couldn’t even overturn Obamacare with no filibuster possible and a majority in both houses. Making something, fixing, something, requires more work than breaking it.

But we have to do the work. Not just in 2024, but beyond. The work will always be with us, and what is at stake this year is determining what that work will consist of.

muddle through somehow

I accumulated a lot of stuff this year. The old friv-o-list is empty, more or less. I bought a new pair of loafers, my first new pair of cowboys boots in two decades, a jersey-knit blazer suitable for cooler weather without having to revert to tweed, a summer-weight cotton version of the new Barons hat (and was sent two), a neopixel lightsaber, a stealth plaid version of my beloved work shirt, an actual hoodie from American Giant, a one-liter Yeti mug, and – earlier than I wanted, thanks to legal encumbrance – an Apple Watch Ultra 2, which will become the shutdown night phone as soon as USMobile implements support for it sometime in Q1 of 2024 (allegedly). And that doesn’t count a new work laptop or the flannel robe-and-pajama set my wife bought me or any actual gifts (three different Ken Burns series on Blu-Ray, against the risk of losing Internet connection again). Oh yeah – we also finally got fiber service to the house this year.

I have realized that all I want out of 2024 is to be typing this post again in a year knowing that I have not lost anything I had. Still have our jobs, still working remote, still securely in this house, able to afford it, and still living in a democracy with a known good President being sworn in come January. I have assembled as many pieces of things as can be done. Buying stuff is not going to get me through the next thirteen months. But I have everything around me to create my bubble, to live the kind of life I want to live, barring something coming along to change that.

There’s a good case to be made that for most of my life, that’s what happened – I didn’t have any particular ambition or aspiration, I was good with just what I had until circumstances changed. You have to graduate. You have to pass your prelims. My big decisions to make my own change have not exactly been great since 2006 or so, and for someone who relies on the devil he knows and has lived his whole life on defense, this coming year feels like the last goal-line stand. Which is what 2020 felt like, honestly, and even if everything works out for the best, I suspect it’ll be more of the same in 2028 and 2032 and for the rest of my days until the last boomer is choked to death on the entrails of the last Reagan Democrat. The idea that I could make my own change for the better…well, as with most things, it would entail making things worse before they get better. And I don’t have it in me right now to deal with worse.

So on to 2024. Go to the gym. Do the weights. Get on the meds again, whatever is required to help me function. Keep pursuing this spiritual development and see if I can find peace and perspective. Somewhere, some way, find the strength to muddle through somehow until next year we may all be together if the Lord allow.

Onward. The only way out is through.

festivus again

One big thing this year, my great Airing of Grievance: too many people have forgotten that there is such a thing as right and wrong and that the difference is not very difficult to see. One country invading another is wrong, even if it began two years ago. A terror attack that kills hundreds of people is wrong. Indiscriminate bombing of civilians is wrong. Singling out a minority of less than one percent and building your entire politics on shitting on them specifically is wrong. Making no distinction between the people who cause a problem and the people who solve that problem is wrong. And biggest of all, in this last ten years, lying is wrong. It just is. You can’t have a post-truth society for the same reason you can’t have a wire mesh ferry boat.

This was supposed to be a year when I could try to focus on the now, live in the moment, enjoy life before another miserable election season. Instead, people who insist on their own false reality made it a misery almost from the beginning of the year. Thanks to them, we incurred legal fees, battled COVID infection, rearranged plans one after the other, and got a crash course in adjusting expectations and radical acceptance.

Because the biggest lie of all is “oh you don’t need to worry because it will all work out somehow.”

ghosts of christmas past, part 14 of n

The first blue Christmas was 1986. I was 14. I was too old for toys, but I didn’t have any idea what I actually wanted for Christmas. I had started high school four months earlier and still hadn’t found the space I fit in, and was homesick for the misery of junior high. And as it happens, by the time the 25th rolled around, I already knew every gift I was getting before I opened it. A very 80s gray leather jacket, an electric razor that i didn’t actually need, and that’s about it. And I was so miserable by lunchtime that my mother actually noticed and tried to sympathize, which should be a sign how bad off I was. It was a rotten capper on a rotten year.

I suppose you could argue the bluest Christmas since was 2007. Sure, in 1998, my father was newly dead, but the shock and grief of that blotted out anything specific to the festive period. There were some intermittently tough ones in between, but nothing so bad as this – I had left my job at Apple, which in retrospect was an incredibly stupid thing to have done, and was working two part-time jobs slapped together into a single federal subcontract. No benefits – even less than I have now, which is saying something – and no prospects for any sort of growth or development. Just sat in the blockhouse of a building, alone in a cold room, staring at the display of a laptop that Apple had discontinued before I’d even left for California that had been handed to me as a workstation three and a half years later, with partial internet access that meant I couldn’t stream anything or surf where I wished. And for the first time in my life, I was depressed enough to say “yes, I need the medications now.”

I suppose in a way 2008 was the last genuinely good Christmas – things in Alabama mostly all right, before the great family disruption, the traditional California festivities with Mass and bourbon slush and white elephant exchange, enhanced by Vanderbilt in a bowl for the first time in a quarter-century and me finding a new job just in time to celebrate. A sense that life was on the way up, that better days were possible.

Then the family trouble. Then the beginning of a bad decade of work. Then the bad years leading to the election of 2016. Then we lost my in-laws, four months apart, and then trouble within our found family, and so we come to 2023, in which we are alone in this house for the holidays for only the second time. In 2020-21, there was the overarching presence of recent death, and last year, the uncertainty of the situation drowned out everything else (and the Christmas party took the edge off it) but this year, it’s just the two of us, staring down the barrel of 2024 from the precipice of dubious health, dubious employment, never quite enough money to feel secure and a world on fire that teeters on the brink of the unthinkable.

Someone remarked about the coming of Hannukah: “they didn’t know the oil would last for eight days. They didn’t know how long the oil would last at all. But they lit it anyway.” The whole point of Christmas is that it represents the coming of hope into the world. The reason why the early Church dropped it on top of the winter solstice is because the light is coming back. This is a time for hope where there is darkness. The problem is, it’s not easy to imagine sunrise at midnight, and when you don’t have a watch and no way of knowing how long the night is going to be, it seems impossibly far away.

LOL

The final four team college football playoff has been set and no one is happy. In: undefeated Michigan, champions of the Big 10 [sic], undefeated Washington, champions of the PAC-12, and two 12-1 teams, Alabama, (champions of the SEC who lost only to Texas) and Texas (champions of the Big [sic] 12 [sic] who lost to…I dunno, Oklahoma or somebody). Out: Florida State, 13-0 undefeated champions of the ACC, who for their trouble will now face Georgia, coming off back to back national titles and sour at being the first team in God knows how long to be undefeated, lost the SEC championship game, and not back into the playoff anyway.

Inasmuch as any of this is actually a problem, it will go away next year. A 12-team playoff will be enough to take every power conference champ, every near-miss team with name ID (get ready for Bama and Ohio State in every playoff), and still have one spot left to throw a sop to Central Florida or Boise State or whatever lesser undefeated team is clamoring for a place at the table. Then you can expect the bitching and moaning to turn to who got a bye and who deserved to be in the picture because their three losses were better than someone else’s.

Two things.

First, as always, if this were 1991 we’d have an obvious national title game: Michigan and Washington in the Rose Bowl. (In fact I’m not sure that wasn’t actually the game on 1 Jan 1991.) Florida State would still be left out, partly because of the bowl tie-ins but largely because of the uncomfortable but true fact that Florida State was champion of what was the weakest of the power conferences this year. They would have a case if they beat whoever wound up in the Orange Bowl with them convincingly, and meantime you’d have Texas-Georgia in the Cotton Bowl and Bama-Ohio State in the Sugar and everything would be just fine.

Secondly, the battle lines have already been drawn, and they are obvious. Next year, Washington will be in the increasingly-innumerate Big 10 and Texas will be in the increasingly geographically illiterate SEC. The Committee has hung out its shingle: these are The Two Best Conferences, and teams with a better record in lesser conferences will not be held equivalent. And Florida State – which joined the ACC three decades ago specifically to have an easier path than a 12-team SEC would have afforded them – now finds itself locked in place through 2036 unless they can find some way to buy out their grant of rights to the ACC, which I can assure you all the best lawyers in Tallahassee are currently engaged in finding a way to do.

The problem the ACC has is largely perception: for the last decade or so, it’s been Clemson’s private playpen, and an undefeated Clemson won two national titles in that span, so they had to be taken seriously, but as long as Florida State was down, there was no other team in the conference to make up for the impression of Clemson and the Twelve Dwarfs (or however many teams they’re on now). Now Florida State is hot again, and the bottom has fallen out of Clemson. In the last 20 years, the PAC-12 had alternately had top-10 performances by U$C, Cal, Oregon, Stanfurd and Washington. The SEC has produced Bama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, and occasional flashes from Auburn or Tennessee. The Big 10 [sic] has mostly got by on Ohio State, with recent efforts from Michigan and sometimes big years from State Penn or Iowa. But the ACC has yet to produce two simultaneous contenders, and the Big [sic] 12 [sic] has yet to turn out anyone beyond Texas and Oklahoma (who are decamping to the SEC).

So next year, we will have a 12-team playoff, to be populated by two first-tier conferences, two second-tier conferences who will be lucky to get a second team in, whatever legally remains of the PAC-12, and a pity slot for some G5 team, while Florida State desperately looks for Gulf oil money (no, seriously) to try to buy their way into something else. And within about 5 years, Texas will be whispering to Bama and Georgia and LSU that they shouldn’t be carrying all this dead weight of Vandy and Kentucky and the Mississippis and why don’t they form a real super conference with Clemson and Florida State, and before you know it, boom, the college football premier league is a reality.

I look forward to being left behind. At that point I think it might be possible to enjoy this sport again.

the lifeline

The city of Birmingham has thrown a rope to Birmingham-Southern College, a forgivable loan that will provide enough bridging money to see out the current academic year and (possibly) make it to next August, which provides runway to get the current students graduated and buy six months to raise the rest of the money for next year. In the grand scheme of things, it resembles nothing so much as the Tom & Jerry cartoon with the cat frantically setting down one piece of track after another in front of his speeding train, and I honestly don’t know what is going through the mind of students at this point. Although anyone who doesn’t have a plan B in mind is an idiot, because this is a degree of instability that’s going to be hard to overcome.

One thing I didn’t know is that Kyle Whitmore – one of the two best reporters working in Alabama today, along with John Archibald – is an alum, and he has revealed some interesting information. One is that remarkably, BSC’s tuition is actually lower than the University of Alabama’s at the moment, and that with a higher minority percentage than they have at Tuscaloosa (truly shocking in my day, when a Black male student was either a basketball player or a theater major). The other is that apparently the biggest financial hit came from the makeover that was undertaken in the mid-2000s, and they burned a big chunk of the endowment for things like the bell tower dropped in the middle of the academic quad, or the new “welcome center” or the new enormous pond on campus or, famously, a football stadium for a team that hadn’t played football since 1939 and had never shown any particular interest in resuming it.

BSC is down to around 700 undergrads, which is mighty cozy. That’s half the size it was in my day, and I can only assume that with a depleted enrollment and a student body that size, capital improvement is a long long way off (then again, when you don’t need half your dorm space any longer, I don’t know what you do to monetize the physical plant. Not like you can cash that in) and you’re going to have to win over students with what you have in front of you. Which, after a year and a half of circling the drain, is kind of a busted flush.

It would be a fitting end for BSC to die as a result of suffocating itself by climbing up its own ass and never finding the way out. I have apparently done a good enough job burning my tracks that no one has come to me looking for a handout, and I don’t intend to float a penny to remediate the mistakes of the institution that was itself the single greatest mistake of my life. I am sympathetic with the argument made by the Alabama state treasurer who glories in the government name of Young Boozer III, who asserts that the plans BSC has don’t add up to financial viability, and I don’t see how throwing another $30 million at the problem is going to raise the $100+ million they will need on top of that to return to viability. It’s entirely possible that the institution has just plain run out of track at last.

It rather begs the question of what is BSC for. We’ve batted this around before, but the Methodists already have a perfectly cromulent liberal arts college with division-III athletics, and I know this because my nephew is a redshirt offensive lineman for them. Birmingham already has small colleges – there’s Miles, which stood to inherit BSC’s campus back in 1976, and there’s Samford, which is…a college (although if BSC is a conservative-arts college, what must a Baptist equivalent be like). And there’s UAB, the state’s largest employer and a cornerstone of the whole community in a way that BSC…isn’t. Or wasn’t, anyway. The extent to which Mayor Woodford represents them is a remarkably generous gesture on his part, in my opinion, and as I have said before, a revitalized BSC that was a genuinely Birmingham college would be a lot easier to look kindly on.

I guess we’ll see. Hugh Martin ‘30 wasn’t wrong to write “until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow”, though. Of which.

one year out

The fundamental fact of American politics in the 21st century is that the Republican Party feels entitled to wield power irrespective of whether they can get the most votes. The GOP had the White House for 20 years out of 24 before Clinton won, and felt hard done by that they lost in 1992. And then the South arguably had the White House for 20 years straight – from 1988 to 2008, if you accept the Bush family identity as Texan – and felt doubly hard done by to lose it to a Black man in an election where neither party’s ticket ever featured anyone from a state with a star on the Rebel flag for the first time since – 1968? Maybe?

So in 2008, the GOP-South alliance took a loss fair and square and took that as an existential threat, and has ever since bent all its power to denying the result at the ballot box by whatever means possible. And if that meant embracing conspiracy and falsehood and steering into anti-democratic values and tactics, so be it. QAnon? Fine. Blocking the ability of a President to appoint a Supreme Court justice for a year because of the election coming, and then whipping one through in two weeks when it’s your turn? Fine. Open violence in an attempt to thwart the affirmation of the electoral results? Fine. Threatening the full faith and credit of the United States repeatedly, shutting down the government repeatedly, installing an open Christian Dominionist two heartbeats away from the White House? All fine.

The enemy is here. It rejects electoral constraint, unwritten rules, good faith even-handedness and shame, and our media and politics is not set up to cope with an openly anti-democracy force controlling one of the two parties. And we have a fifth column in the press that insists that racism, ignorance and bad faith are valid viewpoints that must be accepted and accommodated, that the most Christofascist people are “moderates” because they haven’t yelled at anyone, and that you don’t like Democrats and look at how unpopular they are since you don’t like them.

There is a very real chance we are not going to get away with this one. And I don’t have a plan B for what happens if we don’t. I ran as far as I could from Alabama, and if it takes over the country – and make no mistake, the bullshit you see in Alabama and Tennessee and Virginia and everywhere I’ve run from is explicitly and openly what is coming in 2025 if the Republicans win – if that is triumphant, I don’t know how to deal with what happens after. Everything in my being screams “sell the house, sell everything, move to Ireland and hide” but that isn’t really an option – especially since there is a handful of people very close to us who will need all the help and protection we can afford them if things do go wrong.

But there are so many points of failure. It’s not enough to re-elect Joe Biden, or any Democrat – you have to also run up sufficient numbers of Democrats in Congress that you can break the chokehold of the cowards and the backstabbers and still have enough votes to do useful things. Like shred the mechanisms that allow one single Senator to bring everything to a halt. Like doing what is necessary to rebalance a Supreme Court that has three Trump appointees after Democrats only had five in the last fifty years combined. Like ensuring that the victory goes to the candidate with the most votes, instead of putting a 3% thumb on the scale for Republicans thanks to shithole fleaspeck states with half the population of just one Bay Area city. And you have to make sure that loaded rigged Supreme Court can’t cut the nuts out from under you.

And you have to get the votes. Despite all of this, you have to convince Ed Earl Brown that democracy is on the ballot. You have to convince young people that it’s not a one-and-done solution and that you have to accept that you’ll be moving the ball down the field your whole life. You have to convince extremely-online leftists who shit the bed in 2000 and 2016 that harm reduction and preventing disaster is more important than their feelings and “heightening the contradictions” and that a whole lot of people are going to suffer and die waiting for their great gettin’ up socialist morning. You have to get people to keep charging up the hill over and over in the face of incremental gain and constant setback and a news machine that will normalize the worst in humanity and say “why you bringing up old shit” as soon as someone other than Trump is at the top of the GOP.

I don’t know. I just don’t know. It’s going to be one part learning to love the struggle, one part radical acceptance and four or five parts antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. And a whole lot of living with the fact that the lesson of the 21st century is that one Black man as President was enough to make White American lose its shit permanently, and there may just be no coming back from this country’s foundational sin.

more about the wardrobe

I genuinely don’t know when it happened that I stopped buying clothing in person. But my jeans have all come from LC King in Bristol, Tennessee for years now – eight years? Maybe? Everything that goes on the top half of my body comes from American Giant – T-shirts of all types, polos, work shirts, flannel. Outerwear has largely come in person – but not my M65, or my travel blazers. Socks from Bombas, drawers from Made Here (and how am I gonna replenish that) – at some point I stopped buying anything but shoes in person.

About that.

I’ve actually bought most of my shoes online lately. Not the Solovairs from Camden, obviously, but the Croc-like Kanes or the loafers and chukkas from Rancourt or the roper boots which are en route from Tecovas as we speak. I’ve replenished the plastic Birkenstocks online. Basically, since before the onset of the pandemic, my entire wardrobe has transitioned to what I can buy online rather than purchasing anything in person.

That’s a lot to think about. The idea that I would buy Western boots online seems like the last straw. The idea that I would buy Western boots at all seems a bit outlandish, but bear with me: if it’s socks season, I would like to have slip-on options, and that means either wearing out my Solovair Chelsea boots faster than I’d like or wearing the steel-toed Blundstones, and I need something in between. And I do have the old black cowboy boots I bought in 2001, but my original Nashville boots don’t fit any more (and were a gift from someone I’d just as soon be shut of) and I figured, why not – they’re good value for money and well reviewed, and they’re roper boots, the sort you muck around the ranch in rather than the kind that you preen around Broadway in Nashville wearing. I don’t have a hat to go with them, and won’t, because the gray derby hat is much closer to authentic western wear than some gigantic George Strait number.

At some point, I feel like I need the boots and the blazer to bolster my look. I feel different in the boots and the blazers. Closer to how I was in DC, when I had confidence in my ability and the respect of my peers and management. It’s been too long, but maybe I can still get back to that a little bit – or at least look a cut above while doing it. Ten years ago I was actually trying to have a more polished look for my 40s, and then it all went to hell with work being a misery and the world collapsing and by the time Covid arrived, I was happy enough to rock the “upscale vagrant/mildly alcoholic beachcomber” aesthetic.

Maybe this is just a case of “dress as the person you want to be, not the person you’ve let yourself become.” I don’t know. All I can tell you is that it’s finally (almost) outerwear season, and the quarter of the year in which i can reliably dress in my preferred manner. I’m hoping to really get into it and enjoy it before the highs in the 80s come back and bring another miserable year along with them.

hanging out Thursday’s wash

* Not much to say about what’s going on in Israel, except to affirm that this genuinely is their 9/11: a complete intelligence failure occasioned by having the worst possible person in charge, who will now politicize the tragedy for political gain and self-preservation in a country that already doesn’t think very highly of him. As someone else said, if Bibi Netanyahu is going to be turfed out soon as the war’s over, how incentivized do you think he is to conclude the war?

* You can do the wrong thing for the right reason, but that doesn’t make it the right thing, and you’d better be prepared to live with the consequences. Too few people seem to grasp this.

* Looking back over 2022’s entries, and having just come from breakfast-for-lunch at the local spot I waited months for on, I am surprised at how much of the stuff I wanted I finally got. Sure, the ID4 was always going to arrive if you waited long enough, but the local spot did eventually open for lunch, dinner, brunch, and now has outdoor dining, breakfast for lunch and takeout/delivery options. It’s going to be the Sunday pint spot before long now that it’s dark at night, which is going to be absolutely delightful.

* I also did eventually get Stories in Signal, and a Mastodon instance or two, but none of those ever got any meaningful uptake. The one thing that has launched and worked for me is Bluesky, and who even knows how long or how well it will continue to work, but it’s the most gratifying social media experience in a decade. Then again, it came pre-populated with the EDSBS Commentariat, a whole group of similar cultural and chronological sensibilities, so the failure of more IRL friends to latch on has not been a dealbreaker. It’s embarrassing how much battery life it accounts for on my phone.

* Speaking of batteries, my watch remains devoutly attached to that 81% battery capacity, which has been the rated capacity for months now. I smell a rat, but I haven’t had time to press the issue, and I definitely won’t be able to do anything with it until mid-November at the earliest. Gonna be a lot of days in low power mode, feels like, but until I can get a phone plan that will allow for cellular, replacing it altogether is foolishness.

* I don’t do well with warm weather at the best of times, but having it touch 90 degrees in October is just insulting. I know October is the summer month of record in San Francisco, but there is no reason I should ever have to deal with a 9 in the temperature during college football season, and I am entitled to a refund on my mortgage – or at least my property tax – for putting up with Alabama temperatures at California rates. Maybe going away for a week to a place with actual cold will help reset things.

* Because I need a reset. I know that 2024 is going to be hard, to the point that I’m considering asking to go back on medication – as late as possible, obviously, because I’d like to think that the holiday season, cooler weather, shorter days and the tiny village I’ve constructed around myself are enough to hold me until January or February. But if you can’t see any realistic way for things to get any better, you may as well do what is necessary to keep functioning in the face of a reasonable expectation of catastrophe.

* Next year is twenty years since My Buddy Vince first Sez something. That’s a lot to cope with. Of which.