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HaZayin Nezer (The Olive Branch) Episode 1: Relationship types.

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In this first episode of the podcast, released 13 December, 2017, I discuss the different types of relationships, and some general guidance on improving them.

Some of the main ideas covered in this episode:
0:00 * Intro
0:33 * Why this matters
0:50 * Relationship types: Family
1:24 * Relationship types: General
1:40 * Relationship types: Romantic
1:50 * Improving our relationships:
2:05 * Follow the Golden Rule
2:20 * Listen
3:00 * Love is time
3:28 * Relationship types: Definitions
3:35 * Neighbor defined
4:15 * Colleague defined
4:36 * Acquaintance defined
5:09 * Boy/Girl-friend defined
5:42 * Fiance(e) defined
5:59 * Spouse defined
6:39 * Next up: Betrothal
6:46 * Kicker

I hope you enjoy this episode. This episode was produced with the support of my Patreon backers. To back this project, visit and click Become a Patron.
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Seems it's time for my annual update.
I'm still alive.
I got married in November.
I've started a new Patreon campaign for maps and adventures I'm making for tabletop RPGs.
I'm still offering lessons.
And I'm still posting most of my thoughts elsewhere. See my previous update post for wheres.
Is anyone still reading this journal? I'm trying to keep it active for posterity, but if someone's reading, I might post more. Maybe.
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As before, this was written before 2003-03-06 and is disappearing from my Web site.

"Don't say good-bye," one says to another, "but see you later."

In practical terms, there is rarely any difference between these two partings. People frequently say good-bye to those they will see the next day or the next week. Only in cases of finality does good-bye take on the meaning of not seeing a person again. The connotation of finality actually has nothing to do with the words themselves, which are a short form of "God be with ye;" people once said it "God by you." Still, this phrase of parting has taken on a number of meanings, from "I'm never coming back" to "Go away." It is often used as a parting, whether the person saying it is the one leaving or the one remaining, whether the parting is for a few minutes, hours, or for life.

Still, what difference is there between saying good-bye or saying see you later?

This differentiation may have started with romantic movies where the heroine stresses herself because she can't bear the thought of never seeing her love again, crying, "Not good-bye. Anything but good-bye." But surely this began earlier than that, because the underlying sentiment is part of human nature, and human nature hasn't made any fundamental changes in the past six thousand years. Humans are finite beings whose lives begin and are over like the mayfly's. To stave off feelings of helplessness and ignore the fact of impermanence in relationships like all other things, we try to deceive ourselves with our words.

Thus, by saying see you later instead of good-bye, we attempt to prevent somehow the passing of a relationship out of our hands. Words are normally powerful, but in this case, the difference in our words is nothing more than vibrations in the air and an indication of where our hearts lie.

Where our hearts lie is not a good place. In this futile attempt to forbid unpleasantness to enter our lives, we show our lack of trust. By this, we show that we do not trust people to be faithful to us, and we show that we do not trust God to take care of all our needs, including our relationships. We should abandon acrobatics in our words and exercise trust: in God first of all, in our friends and relatives thereafter.

Because, when you think about it, there's not much difference between see you later and good-bye. One might easily say see you later, leave, and not come back. Whether by plan or by happening, people do leave with see you later and are never seen again. Using three words instead of two did not prevent it.

So use whatever parting you want. I know I will.

NB: While I still agree with this sentiment, I have had trouble putting it into practice in recent years. Since 2008, I have tended to avoid saying good-bye on most occasions. So, I was probably right about a lack of trust. I need to improve on this. --16/7/15

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What's Easy to Say

As before, this was written before 2003-03-06 and is disappearing from my Web site.

I have, in my time online, counseled many people. Occasionally, some of these people will respond to a piece of advice I've given with the words: "That's easy to say."

Well, I know that my saying something is easier than having to do what I suggest, but I would venture to say that this platitude, "Easy to say," is itself rather easy to say. There is rarely even a hint of understanding in these people that what I say may not be easy for me to say. How much I wish I could do more than just speak the truth when the truth offers no immediate consolation. How much I wish I could do more than offer my consolation in mere words. How hard it is, I tell you, to speak the words when I can do nothing more. And how much harder when those words contain the answer that must be effected by the person to whom I speak, that cannot be wrought by my effort, that must be done by that person's choice. I can do many things, but I cannot make a single choice for another human being who has attained the age of decision. In that, as is the case in online counseling, I can do nothing save offer my words and the truth they contain.

The truth one does not wish to hear is not easy for another, who wants that one to hear, to speak.

"Easy to say" is easier to say than what was said.

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Some Thoughts on Books

As before, this is a random thought that is disappearing from my Web site. I wrote it some time before 2003-03-06.

A book, some have said, is like a good friend. It may comfort us, entertain us, make us think, or help us forget. Others liken books to ships, which can take us on journeys of the imagination. Books can instruct us. A book can do many things for us, but it cannot do everything.

There are empty spaces that a book simply cannot fill. A book cannot replace a child. It cannot repair a loss of innocence. It cannot heal a wound. It cannot be as precious as a loved one. Books are, for all their value as transmitters of information and wisdom, only ink and paper. Human hearts need human life, and books cannot fill this need. Humans need friends. Human minds need fellow minds to sharpen them. Human souls need mates to share their intimate thoughts and dreams. Human stories need human ears to hear them. To write a thing in a book is not the same as telling the thing to a listening spirit. Books, in certain instances, are useless. They cannot hold the aching child. They cannot brush away a tear. They cannot lift a body from danger.

Even the Bible is only a book. It is not the book which has power. It is the God whose words the book contains. It is not the book but the Word. The Bible is not the Word. The Word is Jesus. A book is leaves of paper, completely useless to one who cannot read it or to one who does not understand the language of the book. Books, magnificent as they are for teaching, fall all too short in some places.

A book is not a ladder. A book is not a rope. A book is not a shelter. A book is not a hope. A book is not a shovel. A book is not a shield. A book is not a fire. A book is not a harvest field. A book is not a thousand things. A book is not a gun. A book is not a daughter. A book is not a son. A book is not a purpose. A book is not a place to run. A book is neither one that loves nor a beloved one.

A book is a book. It may carry things: pages, photos, memories, notes, ribbons. It may be special because it was once held and read and enjoyed by a special person. It may still have lingering on its pages and in its bindings the scent of one we loved very dearly. It may be a reminder. It may be a message left behind. It may be filled with many things, but there is one thing it can never contain.

It can never contain the person lost. Books do not know how.

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Some very personal thoughts on marriage: I am not like other men.

This was one of the random thoughts on my Web site. I have forgotten when I wrote it, but it was before 2003-03-06, by my archive timestamps.

Being married to me will be very hard, especially when trials come, for
my faith and logical understanding of events might appear as though it
were a lack of caring or a lack of compassion, but this, in time, will
become plain. I am a hard man, perhaps. I have a hard faith. I struggle
with things most do not, and I wade unperturbed through things most find
woeful. I am not like other men.
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Connection re-setablished

It's been a long time, hasn't it?

I'm not sure how much I'll be posting here. I tend to use other sites for most of the things I want to put out, these days.
My deeper, more refined and explored thoughts usually end up on my Patreon campaign ( My more transient thoughts generally end up on teh Book o'Faces or on G+ or Twitter.
But here I am at the moment. I have a few things that will be disappearing from my Web site that I thought I'd share here, some random thoughts, at least, those that I still hold.
It's also possible that I'll get back to tagging the posts I made before LJ had tags. Not likely, given my recent scheduling history (I have a lot on my plate), but a possibility, nonetheless.
If you're interested in seeing more posts here, leave me a comment and tell me what kinds of posts would interest you.

Law and lawfulness

It's very interesting that many people have a problem with the Gospel because they have a problem with God judging them by God's Law. I find that interesting because the same people often have no problem letting other people judge them by much harsher statutes.
See, God gave the nation of Israel the Mosaic Law to show them what sin was, and how the presence of sin in our lives makes us completely unfit, on our own wisdom, power, and merit, to be in relationship with a holy god. Fortunately for us, God also promised, way back in the garden of Eden (and many times since), a redeemer who would save us from the penalty of our sins.
The Law was there to instruct us to the fact that none of us could measure up. None of us is able to be righteous in our own strength. So, we need a savior, a messiah, a christ. And that's what God provided in the person of Christ Jesus, the Messiah, who shed His own blood to redeem the world from sin. That payment is available to anyone who will accept it, and it has the power to transform us from unrighteous rebels into repatriated subjects.
Civil society cannot do with civil law what God did with Mosaic law, or its effect will be lawlessness. If a reasonable person cannot choose to be a law-abiding citizen (and we are fast approaching that point, if we haven't reached it already), then there is no incentive to try, outside of a person's own morality, because at that point, you have the very same situation as a subject of a king who has only one law: "Please me, or I will do with you whatever I please." With one notable exception: The subject of that king *knows* that he lives at the whim of his king.
Jurisprudence has no savior mechanism, unless presidents and governors spend all day, every day, signing pardons, and even that does not cover tomorrow's offenses.
In order to maintain a civilized society, we need to simplify our laws and make them sensible, flexible, and subject to a set expiration. Otherwise, the people who can't avoid the penalty for the laws nearly all of us break become more and more likely to rise up and tear down everything we've built, out of sheer desperation.
Laws that are not sensible lead to loopholes those in authority can use to act as a gotcha against anyone who is doing something they don't like, even if the unpleasant activity is protected under the law, by using an unrelated statute to convict them. The best a citizen can hope for under such a system is a sort of benevolent incompetence, in which the authorities do not choose to use the rules against them.
We should strive for a system in which no benevolent incompetence is necessary, but where the lawfully minded citizen has nothing to fear from the rare unlawfully minded authority figure.
An insensible and unjust system leads inevitably to an attitude of lawlessness and disrespect for authority. We need to instill an attitude of respect, and that requires sensible law.
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Iconifying My Business

I'm trying to come up with a logo for my business.
I'm a bit lost.
Ideally, it would encapsulate and be emblematic of what I teach (computer skills, crochet, chess, and tutoring), but I'm discovering that that may be too tall an order.
So, I'd like to decide on an icon/emblem that will give a sense of me and my business.
How do you see me? How do you see what I'm doing as my career?
I hope that my business image is one of competence, approachability, and value. With that in mind, what do you think about the following ideas for a logo/emblem?

An owl
A projector screen on wheels or on the back of a truck
A slate (mini chalkboard) with a letter on it
A hot-air balloon
A helium balloon
A chess knight
A medieval knight (with lance and shield)

If you have other ideas that might fit me and my business of private instruction, I'd love to hear them.
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Seeking Attention

I was listening to a podcast a couple of weeks ago, and they were talking about the phenomenon of social structure that a hundred years ago, most of the self-help books of the day were about building character, while today, many of them are about being an influencer. They said this is evidence of a shift in our culture from agricultural (where diligence and honesty are more important) to consumer (where being able to sell things and ideas is the way to get ahead).
I have noticed this predominance of importance placed on sales skills in many of my jobs and in the dating world. Charisma, not character, is what a lot of people are looking for, not just in a mate, but as a prerequisite for even entering the dating arena. If you're shy, many people don't consider you worthy of finding love at all. If you don't believe me, visit singles forum sites. You'll see that many people think a person who is not assertive enough to approach someone (especially men approaching women) is doomed to a solitary life and, in fact, will be the subject of harsh derision.
And that bothers me, not just because I suffer from a deplorable lack of the flashy sort of charisma that is so valued in today's culture. I think it's terrible that we've replaced character with charisma, begging to be influenced by people who may not have our best interests at heart, or who may not be competent to serve the interests of those around them, simply because they have a silver tongue.
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