Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

Welcome to Black Friday - at least Black Friday the way I do them.

I am sitting ensconced in my bedroom in the chair beneath the reading light.  The cup of coffee that is not quite warm enough is next to me, but I am a little bit too lazy to get up and warm it.  Looking to my right I can see a straight shot out the window into the trees that grace our neighbor's backyards.  The trees - at least the ones that are likely to turn - have started to do so as all of them sway back and forth in a wind that just looks miserably cold from the inside.

The sky is dark with clouds, brought along with the wind that moves the trees.  Occasionally a smidgeon of blue sky peeks through but is covered over by clouds of variegated shades of gray and white.  The Sun is doing the dance it loves to do in such weather: fading in and out like a dimming light bulb, sometimes very faint and then suddenly bursting into full shining.

The house is quiet now:  Na Clann are all still abed due to being out late last night catching deals with The Ravishing Mrs. TB, who herself is looking out for round two.  Syrah the Mighty is lying beside me now, perhaps hoping that either a walk or the off chance of food is in her immediate future.

There are things to be done over this holiday of course:  a garage to be organized, walls to be patched, even  some planning for next year to be done.  Yet strangely I cannot shake myself from here and now of the silence inside and the dancing trees outside with leaves fluttering in the wind like flags.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

George Washington's 1789

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Cleaning A Hard Drive

This morning, upon having the luxury of a vacation and not going to work, I took the opportunity to organize my hard drive.

This is a task that I have sadly been lacking in.  My computer is giving me those handy shout-outs that say "Hey, you need more memory!" - and yet I have never found the time to sit down and actually go through the lengthy process of actually cleaning up the hard drive.

Why?  Because I am a pack-rat of my own materials, and going "electronic" solved absolutely nothing in that regard.  Whatever I create on the computer, I tend to keep - in fact, I think we still have old 3.5 inch disks from our Apple with things I created 20 years ago because I have this crazy idea that somehow, somewhere, they might be useful to me.

But the time came.  And the time was available.  So data transferring we went.

I still continue to get rid of very little, of course - instead, it all gets transferred on to other memory sticks, where it will at least take up less space until (once again) the technology changes and I am left with sticks of documents that I can no longer access.  And going through the actual process is a great deal like reading a diary of sorts:  as I organized and moved and transferred, I can see the various trains of thought I was following, the projects I was trying to set into place, the ideas that were set up on electronic paper yet never seemed to move beyond a certain stage.

They are all transferred now, the "current materials" on my hard drive, the other materials safely archived for a day which may never come - in a way, a reflection of so much the activity that fills our own lives, where that which was at one moment important loses criticality and eventually is transferred to the back of our memory or to our garage or closet on the off chance that someday it may become critical, although too often in our head we already know that it will never be.

It is just that we cannot bear to let go of it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Being Heihachi

One of the great aspects of Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa is the way that he brought not just seven samurai together but seven different types.  Western culture often lumps all into a single type called "samurai" but Kurosawa brings together seven men who are samurai as a group but are different as individuals:  the student, the wise leader, the deadly swordsman, the brash outsider, the competent lieutenant, the battle friend, and the cheerful warrior.

When watching the movie, one wants to be the great ones:  Shimada Kambei, the wise leader, or even Kyuzo, the deadly swordsman who lives only for his art. These are the two that perhaps most completely demonstrate what the Western idea of a samurai is:  Tactical.  Learned.  Deadly.  Admired.

And then one realizes that one is not- and will never be.  One realizes, in fact, that one is Heihachi.

Heihachi is not as skillful a warrior as Kyuzo and not experienced as Shimada - in fact, of the 6 samurai that are not students, he is probably the least impressive for weapons skills.  When we first meet him, he is chopping wood to pay for his food.  A friendly fellow, he takes the time to build relationships with the villagers and among the samurai.  And he is the first killed after a raid, trying to rescue his friend.

But for all of this Heihachi is not any less than any other of the samurai.  He is not considered less - in fact, at his funeral Kambei notes how they will miss his cheerful spirit.  He fills a critical role in the interactions of the group, even as he seems to be one of the least impressive of the warriors.

Just because we cannot always be what we think we want does not mean that we do not bring value.  Sometimes that value is being Heihachi.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Our Weather

In the interests of something completely different, I thought I would talk about the weather we have had here this past week.  Because it has been remarkable to my way of thinking.

About a week and a half ago we were enjoying what I suppose we have come to see as fall weather:  mid-60's during the day, high 40's at night.  On Sunday night a week ago the "Polar Vortex" roared through  - where we are, there is nothing between us and Canada except flat.  Temperatures plunged to the high 20's at night and low 40's during the day.  We held that weather pattern until Wednesday, when the temperature started to climb but not a great deal - we only had a 15 degree variation one day between morning and daily high.

By Friday the weather had turned nicer, but with clouds.  We had sprinkles all day.  By Saturday it was a full on rainstorm which extended through the night - by Sunday morning we had received 3.84 inches of rain.  And then yesterday the sun burst out in glorious view with a high of 75.

A 50 degree swing in weather conditions within a week.  We have never had such interesting weather since we moved here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

November Moon

The sliver moon-set
dances low across the sky
as cloud tendrils sail.

Thursday, November 20, 2014