Gad, this is depressing…

(This turned into another wall’o’words post. Apologies.)

PREAMBLE: Longtime readers will have noticed that I seldom do political posts anymore. Honestly they were never anything but filler to help me fulfill the Post Every Day rule, which is hard to do with slice of life posts because I live very quietly and blogworthy things simply don’t happen every day. When I stopped with the political stuff my readership crashed – not a lot of people out there really care what-all Tobie did today or whether Ian’s water softener is behaving itself, and I don’t blame them.

It didn’t matter. A major reason I maintain the blog is for my own mental health. My idea of good mental hygiene involves minimal engagement with political bullshit that happens outside the Gulch: It never seems to make anybody happier, and I found it excruciating but as a lifelong political junkie it was difficult to unplug even though it has virtually nothing to do with most of my day-to-day life. So I view my waning interest in who’s insulting whom at a white house press session as a good thing in terms of my personal road to satori, y’know? If it costs the blog some readers, so be it.

My point being, when political bullshit does manage to intrude itself into my very quiet life, it’s actually painful. I was going to write this post yesterday but kept putting it off. And now I’m finding it difficult to compose, so bear with me. End of preamble.

One major advantage of being a frickin’ hermit in the frickin’ desert is that you don’t have to deal with all the bullshit surrounding the Covid lockdown(s), mask mandate(s) and to-vax-or-not-to-vax.

Not all of the bullshit. It seems some of it is unavoidable. Really, I spent part of yesterday pondering just what freedomistas who live in cities have to put up with.

Here’s my problem: I deal with neighbors on a reciprocal basis for a good deal of my living. And until recently this has been easy and pleasant because I like most of my neighbors. The ones I don’t like, I don’t have to deal with. Their political opinions hardly ever enter into it: For the most part they don’t even come up.

I have one set of neighbors with whom I deal quite a lot, and I’ve always known that they derive their entire worldview from watching hairsprayheads talk on the television. I haven’t had access to a television during this century, and even when I still did I never paid any attention to broadcast ‘news’ because damn. And in March of this year I spent parts of 3 days housesitting for some neighbors, actually watched some ‘news’ shows on their TV, and oh my god the current generation of newsreaders makes Howard Handupme look like Edward R. Murrow. I could never stand it for more than a few minutes at a time, I felt myself growing measurably more stupid by the second.

Thing is, I knew this about these neighbors and it didn’t make any difference to me. In matters of actual life these two are as normal and sensible as anybody you’ve ever met: In political matters they just spew whatever the last thing was that they saw on TV, apparently with complete conviction. They used to go on and on about Trump, and that didn’t bother me because I’m not a big fan myself though I figured that whatever Rachel Maddow or Don Lemon had to say about him were probably party-line lies. So I could just smile and keep my mouth shut, and it didn’t affect anything important.

Starting last year with the Covid thing, matters became more serious. I mean, it made a certain amount of sense for them to take it seriously – they’re both considerably older than I am and both have serious health issues, so it made sense to isolate themselves and do the mask thing. They rushed to get vaccinated at the first opportunity and that may have been a rational choice. You have to understand that we live ‘way back in the boondocks here and the chance of catching any disease from anybody is very low – but not zero, I had a bad case of the flu myself back in 2017. It can happen.

But there was still that television thing dinning in their ears. You might recall that Covid instantly became a big political issue: It seemed rational to me to discount the most extreme views spewed by either side of what passed for a debate, but my two beloved neighbors accepted whatever the TV poured into them uncritically. Last summer they believed, for example, that bodies were piling up in hospital parking lots even though they both spent time at hospitals and couldn’t have seen any such thing with their own eyes. This summer they insisted that I resume the mask when we went to town because the “delta variant” made the vaccine – which I suffered through in February and March for their sake – meaningless and hospitals were packed with dying patients again.

All this was just an annoyance I put up with for the sake of friendship and – frankly – business. I do things for them, they do things for me, and I’ve grown dependent on the relationship.

But yesterday we were in the parking lot of the Palace of Food and there was this old guy with a shopping cart taking his annoying time getting out of the way of their truck. And one of my neighbors said to the other, “Run him down, he’s probably unvaccinated anyway.”

I joked back, “Now, now. Let’s not let our view of the unvaccinated go to extremes.” And this person replied, not at all joking, “What extreme? They’re killing innocent people by the thousands.”

And I…said nothing. Okay: I don’t apologize for being an extreme introvert, you shouldn’t be shocked by any tendency on my part to avoid confrontation. But I suddenly realized that the company of these two people, whom in every other way I like very much, had crossed the line into being painful.

Maybe they’re an extreme case? I don’t know. They’re isolated, they watch a lot of television but don’t do the internet, they’re never exposed to any conflicting views. Maybe they’re an extreme case?

And yet, as I said, they started out as reasonable, sensible people. I watched the appalling mess that people with political commitments tried to make of the world in summer of 2020: Most of them probably saw themselves as reasonable and sensible. Maybe my two neighbors are really the norm. Maybe the world really is falling apart out there.

Gad, it’s depressing.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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31 Responses to Gad, this is depressing…

  1. Jeff Allen says:

    Internet access wouldn’t necessarily help: plenty of confirmation-bias material to be had…

    I would have done the same thing (i.e. STFU) when presented with evidence of their vice-signalling – for YOUR benefit? They already have a nice folie a deux going there… They may not be the norm exactly, but there is a lot of that going around.

    Good luck with navigating that minefield, though.

  2. Goober says:

    Nah, it’s actually not that uncommon. There’s a not-unsubstantial group of people honestly and unironically calling for hospitals to deny medical care to the unvaxxed.

    Things are as ugly as I’ve ever seen them. People are pissed on both sides of the aisle, and EVERYONE is all agitated and restless. The political climate is very much “run him over and kill the bastard for being unvaxxed” right now. Your neighbors are not unique.

    My suggestion to you is to just keep not paying attention. You have that luxury. I do not. I’ve got a company with 200 employees to look out for, and I’m about to have quite a few less as soon as I am forced to tell them that they have to get vaxxed or test negative once a week to remain employed, so that I can be in compliance with the new OSHA rules. This, in a labor market where finding anyone with a pulse that actually is interested in working is nearly impossible, so replacing many of these GOOD PEOPLE is going to be stupidly hard (read: impossible).

    Whether you agree with the choices of the unvaxxed or not, you must understand that we’re fixing to create a HUGE underclass of pissed off, unemployed people who will be shunned as literal pariahs, and unable to feed their families unless they submit to the government’s orders. Such actions have not had good results when they’ve occurred in the past.

  3. Nevada says:

    Goober, giving into the mandates isn’t gonna help. It’s shouting “Do it to Julia!”

  4. John says:

    You’re a good man Joel.

    Two little quotes that I think on of late in this current crazy human “mass psychosis”:

    “ The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. ”
    Henry Lewis Mencken

    “The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”
    Robert A. Heinlein

    And human history rhymes, but each time plays out a little different. A bit spooky to actually be living through some possible inflection point…

    I’m hard wired optimist . 🙂

  5. Ben says:

    1) Politics and covid should have nothing to do with each other. As it stands, personal politics is a strong predictor of vaccination status. Why should that be?

    2) Undeniably, (unless, perhaps one is a desert hermit) one’s choices regarding infectious diseases such as covid have externalities. It’s not just about you. For example, my main reason for getting a flu shot is to hopefully keep from passing flu on to elderly people in my house who wouldn’t likely survive a bad case of the flu.

  6. Joel says:

    Undeniably, (unless, perhaps one is a desert hermit) one’s choices regarding infectious diseases such as covid have externalities. It’s not just about you.

    I agree. If it weren’t for my neighbors, most of whom are substantially older than me and some of whom have other health issues, I’d never have gotten the covid jab. For the same reason I never get the flu vaccine: I’m not at risk of the disease, so why risk the vaccine?

  7. Politics makes people stupid, and often, just a bit evil, too.

  8. Cliff says:

    So a couple things, hopefully they help. I for one am happiest when you write about Toby or Ian’s latest home away from home challenges. I enjoy the way you write, and the blog helps me keep my mind on REAL things. I’m dealing with some of the same issues from both sides of the fence. Half the family is convinced there’s a mad scientist plot, the other that they are surrounded by unvaxed terrorists. I’ve decided the worst pandemic out there is the loss of a live and let live attitude. Hang in there, stay focused on real life, know you’re not the only one.

  9. Paul B says:

    I caught the Covid Strain Delta. Knocked me into next week. Was9090 in the hospital for 14 days. Not good. Wife got the jab so she did not get it. 90 days I can get the jab and she has been after me for a year to get it so I guess I will get jabbed.

    I did get some data while I was in. they had 90 unvaccinated in the hospital with Covid D but they also had some 26 vaccinated. So there are 4 vaccines. I would hazard they are not all equal.

    If you can keep from getting it you will be better off.

    I am still on Oxygen but am weining myself off of it.

  10. coloradohermit says:

    I’m glad I’m old and won’t be around to see how the long version of the current crazy shit show will play out. I have no interest in political opinions and I’m quite sure that no one gives a crap what I think. I read so much online about families and friends tearing their relationships apart by having ideas spun so far right or left that they’re out in the wild blue yonder somewhere, with little or no bearing on reality.

    I’m all in on posts about Tobie and the flooded wash and the desert hermit life in general.

  11. Kathryn says:

    I hit the donate button because I enjoy your blog and perspective on life. Keep being you and know we support you.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yup, the country has gone stupid! Your neighbors are not an anomaly. It has been tough trying to stay out of the fray and mind my own business

  13. Terrapod says:


    You are on the right path, ignore 98% of what passes for media today and you will have a low stress life. As to neighbors, best policy is to smile a lot, nod the head at the appropriate moments and keep interactions to minimum friendly level.

    I for one am always reading everything, left/right/up/down – does not matter, digest it and file away mentally for future reference. TV not much beyond DIY shows.

    While it would be possible to have a rational and reasoned discussion with most people, I am finding that too many are literally brainwashed by the mainstream news and in that state, cannot command logic and rational though. So best to avoid them as much as possible.

    If the world continues to go insane, at least you are insulated from most of it by remoteness, not a bad thing at the moment.

  14. RC says:

    The practice at work here is “othering”. Historically, that doesn’t turn out well.

    @Goober. If your business is in the Southern part of the Denver metro area, I’d like to connect. I guess we’d have to use Joel as an intermediary. Somehow, that seems like a bit of an imposition on a hermit.

    (Hmmm, the comment form don’t work without JS? Okay… hope this ain’t a dupe.)

  15. Like it or not, it’s becoming time to choose who you want in your life, to what extent, and what price youre going to be willing to pay for it. It sucks, but it’s here, and it’s got to be done.

  16. Vollinger says:

    I feel ya, Joel. Actually reconnected with my family last year, even random guys at work and neighbors needing or offering help and now it’s kinda being slowly chipped away by external shit that doesn’t really matter and won’t even a headline tomorrow.
    Is your cattle-poking stick long enough to reach their satellite dish?

  17. SLee says:

    I enjoy your writing and enjoy reading about you and Tobie and what happens in the gulch, be it weather, the wash, chores, or Ian’s place. Your blog is a breath of fresh air.

    It’s crazy out there, and folks seem unable to just talk or have a discussion. Everything is black and white, with no margin or flexibility. No matter what happens, this is not going to end well, with friends and family torn apart. I still have hope, but it’s going to be a long slog.

    I agree with Kathryn. Keep being you and know we support you.

  18. Polimath says:

    We love your posts. It is a small way in which we can live vicariously through your adventures. In truth we kind of envy you. You do what we dream about.
    Similar to reading an old western novel or such. I can’t be a cowboy, that train has sailed but I can read a good western and crawl into the the mind of the writer and walk in the footsteps of the character.
    We can’t all be like you or even try to follow your path, but checking in on you every day is like checking in on family.
    Stay cool, Don’t let them steal your peace.

  19. Jerry says:

    “45,000 dead at 72 hours after jab” lawsuit tossed for “unsubstantiated”. They got me- Dad was dead at 75 hours after the 2nd shot. Never had covid.

    Sometime you’ll have somebody talking down “the evil company.” You do realize you have a paycheck because of the evil company, right? My company will not follow the mandate. Get jab if you want to. But then please wear a mask to protect the rest of us from your new frankenstein status.

    Last week we started the He-Man Woman Lovers Club= 3 divorced guys(one remarried) & myself (mine hasn’t dumped me yet!) Last night a couple new members included. The common thing is we all still love them, they just went bat shit crazy. Except for John. John really does hate women now.

    What brings a person to go to the hospital? Inability to breath, or just feeling bad?
    The” Put down your phone so we can put the vent tube in” sure sounds like medical malpractice.

    Keep writing what ever you feel like Joel. We’re Guests in your house. I wouldn’t keep coming back if I didn’t like your conversations

  20. Mark Matis says:

    They are indeed the norm for those who think Slow Joe is doing a great job, and that he actually WON the election!!!

  21. doubletrouble says:

    Joel- It is bedlam out there; the rona & attendant jab has created a whole new religion. Others have said it far better than I could, but keep being you, love your Tobie, and carry on. Best wishes…

  22. Midwestmike says:

    Your blog is a nice window into the lifestyle many of us want to live. Everyone should be able to make their own choice on this or anything else. If you cannot have freedom over your own body, you can not have freedom in any sense of the word. Just because the powers that be leave us alone about some things, at some times, doesn’t mean you have freedom. For better or worse, let people live their own lives.

  23. Steve Walton says:

    I can’t add much to what others have said. I read your blog first thing every morning (does that make me weird, or just stuck-in-the-mud?) on a daily trip through a wide section of the internet. I would miss it if you decided to give up on it. FWIW.

    The world has gone batshit insane. Once not too long ago I thought we’d never get this far, but your neighbors are going to get themselves shot if they actually try to do something about their crazy impulses. Try not to be in the car when this happens!

    I’m well established in a tiny town in the middle of a large empty county, surrounded by like-minded people who just want to be left alone. I’m paranoid that it’s all going to collapse, but at least we have the built-in inertia of the multi-generation farming lifestyle to slow it up some.

    Point being: enjoy life to the fullest while it’s here. You never know how good you have it until it all goes away. Good luck, Joel, and keep blogging!

  24. Mike says:

    I do understand where your friend’s comment comes from because I’m also tired of anti-vaxers and their shenanigans of fake news, protests, ad nauseum. But, I don’t go around wishing death on anyone for their beliefs.

    Regarding your friends and their news watching habits, Up until recently I was caught up in the news trap too. When it was just news at supper and bed time, the feeling was that the stories were interesting but did not affect the person watching them. Now, with 24/7 news bombarding us that story takes on a new light. The way I have gotten around this is to check the news at the start of the day and that’s it.

    We all have politically incorrect friends and associates. The trick to dealing with them is communication. When a line is crossed you have three options: suck it up, say nothing, let them know how you feel about what was said or walk away.

    Considering what’s at stake (sanity v friendship and some monetary gain), choose wisely.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Joel I’ve been reading your blog for a long, long time. It’s one I check in on every day. I first found it when I started my red pilled journey and I continue even though I’ve worked my way through the foaming at the mouth patriot stage. Your philosophy of freedom resonates with me and I try to follow that. I live on a mountain, an hour and a half away from town. If I keep my consumption of the so called news at a minimum life is good.
    Like today, 9/11, all the news is sorrow. I don’t particularly want to relive that, I’m not forgetting, but at the same time I’m disgusted with politics, woke shit, government, colleges, etc. ad nauseam.
    So, my solution is to turn on an hour utube video of vintage fall music with vintage fall pictures, bake bread and cinnamon rolls and render lard.
    I enjoy your everyday life posts, they’re kinda like my life. Simple, uncomplicated, soothing.

    TeresaSue in the mountains of Idaho

  26. Anonymous says:

    Your blog is a daily read for us. We are in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I feel your pain :-). Good on you for staying quiet: a) you won’t enlighten them in any way, and b) it will just cause them anxiety. You could slip in a question though…Why are postal workers exempt from the vaccine?
    You know the people who go door to door to strangers houses everyday….oh also, Congress and their staff are exempt. I honestly laugh out loud to when asked, “Have you been vaccinated?”

  27. Jeffersonian says:

    ‘I joked back, “Now, now. Let’s not let our view of the unvaccinated go to extremes.” And this person replied, not at all joking, “What extreme? They’re killing innocent people by the thousands.”’

    So… that’s groundwork for genocide, laid by media. It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get us.

    Joel, I’ve been following your blog for years, and I often link it in my own. Please keep writing whatever you want. It helps to know someone else out there isn’t completely brainwashed.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Could someone expIain to me how unvaccinated people are killing others? If you believe in fauci’s ouchie, get it. If you believe in the vaccine you are safe. Why the bigotry?

  29. Anonymous says:

    Yes we love Tobie and Ian, but also pictures and stories about the wash and the pear tree and BB and the e-bike and landlady’s visits and porch sits and the goat peoples adventure. Okay, so everything.

  30. SoCoRuss says:

    I spent 42 years in Federal service, 21 in Air Force and 21 as a fed civ employee supporting the young guys who replaced me. So I understand watch what you say in mixed company. I have worked, lived , loved and fought all over this planet. I have seen mankind at its best and worse. Our so called civilization is nothing but a very thin veneer that can open up and let out true evil very easily.

    You cant let things go on as they are because things “Will” get worse. I was in Bosnia and HG during their crisis in mid 90’s. I saw what happens during a civil war comes when no one seemed to see or believe it was coming until it was TOO late. I saw things that haunt me to this day. My unit found mass grave sites multiple times.There is a point where you have to try and start somewhere just to at least say you tried, maybe gently ask they why they seem to be showing bigotry to their fellow citizens. And see if they really understand what they are asking for.

    In one of my AF military schools in Europe we had a Jewish holocaust survivor and a German national speak together. It was amazing what they said. They had been neighbors before Hitler came to power and what happened between the familys. The jew talked about no one saw it coming or believed it could and no one stood up for them even their own leaders and the German talked about not saying or doing anything because of not wanting wanting to lose other friends because of their views or make waves that upset the powers that be. Sound familiar?

    What we are looking at in this country right now is 1930″s Weimar Germay and the National Socialist are grabbing more power every day. You will have to pick a side, there will be no choice.

    Do you want to be asked one day by your kids or friends what you did to try and stop was is to come?

  31. bill says:

    Joel, I read your stuff every morning because of what you write about and what you do not. We have a TV dish that brings many channels. Wife watches old movies and my taste for any of the crap is zero. I check the weather radar and wander aimlessly in the heat. Morons of the world freak and warn me what I must do. In the last 2 weeks I have told the last my 3 friends (of over the last 50 years) to eat crap and never contact me again. Like Merle said “I stand right here where I’m at cause I wear my own kind of hat.”

    The both of us are not vaxed and the last month had us both down and out with the virus. I think my wife will now get the jab as she she still has contact with the humans in the world. Couple of weeks I’ll be 70 and she’ll still be young and has some interest in what passes for life a few miles down the road in the town of 300. I thinking of moving to the shed out back with my dog.

    I like your dog and glad weather hasn’t got you (or me) yet. Pear trees are weird. Am also thankful wife orders 90% of our food through walmart and fedex drops it off at the gate. Dig your bike too but cannot figure out what I’d do with one! Love you Bubba……..

To the stake with the heretic!