Tuesday, July 31, 2018

On Iaijutsu

Sometime within the last two weeks, I entered my ninth year of doing Iaijustu.

Iaijutsu is the art of drawing the sword and cutting in one fluid motion.  The style itself originated was originated in 1590 by Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu, whose father was slain by a swordsman.  Young Hayazashizaki, less skillful that than swordsman that killed his father, meditated 100 days at a shrine and (it is said) received insight into the method that became Iaijutsu.  He successfully avenged his father and went on to found the style.

The style has split and split over the years; the official branch I follow is Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Yamauchi Ha (Tanimura Ha).


I cannot now tell you how I found it  - I was just searching on the Internet not soon after I had moved to New Home and was looking for something to learn.  I had done European fencing in the past and while I had enjoyed it, it was not a complete sword style to me:  there was no drawing, no sheathing, no practical application in what would have been real situations. 

Iaijutsu, in the nine years I have practiced it, has taught me many things.  Yes, it has taught me some level of using the sword  as well as open hand techniques and naginata.  But I would argue that it has actually taught me a great deal more.

The practice of Iai has changed my character. It has instilled in me discipline (through practice) and consistency (in practice and attending class week after week, year after year).  It has taught me the practice of patience and the speed of reaction.  It has taught me the importance of timing and distance - factors not important just in Iai but in life itself (everything, if you think about it, is related to timing (when and where) and distance (how far and how close). 

It has also given the insight that ten year old me wanted into Japanese culture.  It enabled me to return to Japan.  And it has given me a new set of friends scattered all over the world but united by Iai.

It allowed me to earn a shoden menkyo - a teaching certificate (recognized only in the US, to be sure), a sign that I have a basic level of understanding of the techniques of the lowest level - as I argue, I am now always the sensei of last resort, when my own sensei is unable to attend class.

It has also taught me how little I actually know - that just knowing the techniques of anything are not the same as understanding it and that only practicing the techniques in order of learning is not the same as applying them in real life - sword battles usually do not end at the first cut and must be continued until victory, just as any other situation in life.  It gives me something to look forward to on the worst of days and inevitably I feel better mentally after I have been to class.

After nine years I would tell you that I am a mediocre swordsman at best, scarcely able to clear the sheath and get a cut or block.  But I am always comforted by the head of my order, who always reminds us that Iai mastery is a lifetime art, a journey whose destination we never quite reach.

And every day, I get to take one more step towards mastery.


Monday, July 30, 2018

Saying Goodbye To Midnight

We had to say goodbye to Midnight this weekend.


She was a rescue bunny  - rescued before I even knew there was a rabbit shelter here.  I was running one morning not long after we moved to New Home and saw a rabbit out in the lawn by the apartments I was staying at standing on its hind legs (called "periscoping").  I looked at it and realized that it was lop, a rabbit with its ears down - not at all a rabbit that should be living out in the urban environment.  She had either escaped from somewhere or was abandoned.



It took me about a week to track down where she was living - under a old Mercedes Benz.  I bribed her with carrots and grabbed her.  Since then she lived with us.


She was a very sweet rabbit -not one for sitting on your lap but would happily sit next to you for all the pets.  She loved to have her nose scratched and was very generous with her kisses.  She especially looked forward to her morning snacks (usually carrots, but sometimes apples or lettuce).  She was also a very patient bunny as I slowly learned to navigate having two rabbits and making sure that both were cared for.


She was happy to the last, willing to give kisses and have her tummy filled with all sorts of good snacks.  The house definitely has a hole in it without her.



Rabbits are somewhat odd pets.  They do not have the responsiveness and pack mentality of dogs, nor do they have the aloof independence yet willing to adore of cats.  They are prey animals that have overcome their fear of everything being something that will eat them.  They do not do tricks (often), do not catch pests, are not home guardians, and in some ways would seem to be as ornamental as fish or birds.  But they bear a certain quality, an equality of being willing to be loved and exploring and sometimes being feisty yet changing into zen-like calm that is unlike any other animal I have owned.  They are not for every one, but for me Midnight (as well as Snowball and Bella before her and I-Bun now) have made my life the more richer.


She will be missed.




Sunday, July 29, 2018

On God, Our Homeland

"Oh homeland, my homeland,  I see you and salute you from afar, you that harbour nothing ill but only good.  The evils rendered so familiar by long and wearisome experience are not there, that I know.  Of the good that is, my knowledge is so slight as my experience is brief.  Have pity, Lord!  Look, I have run and have headed straight for you.  Rise up to meet me, and see, let me know my end and the number of my days, that I may know what it is I lack.  I stand firm in your faith, I go forward in hope, poor and needy.  I beseech you for your love.  O love, O fire, O charity, enter into us.  Be you are Paradise, our comforter and advocate, the promoter of our prayers.  Give us to see what we believe, to embrace what we hope for.  Make our face like to the face of God, that we may say 'My heart has said to you, "My face has sought you."'".

- William of St. Thierry (ca. 1075 - 1148)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A Few (More) Words From...Jocko Willink

"Instead of going backward - instead of decaying - get stronger.

Get better.

Grow and learn and develop - and live.

Live in defiance of the weakness and in rebellion against the decay.

Fight them as they creep in with their offers of instant gratification and immediate rewards.

Fight them for every inch they try to take.

Do not surrender any ground.

EVER."

Discpline Equals Freedom:  A Field Manual

Friday, July 27, 2018

Do Nothing...

(Administrator's Note:  This is my first attempt to replicate the pictures that I have posted here before.  The ideograph in the lower right corner is Ichiryo Gusoku (see the pages section next to this for a fuller explanation).  I beg your indulgence as I start to work through this medium).

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Your Education Does Not End On Graduation Day

Courtesy of the Art of Manliness.  The original article is here.  Key lines:

"Every man wastes more than time enough to make him famous.  Half an hour a day saved from the wasted moments of your life and devoted to any field of inquiry will make you a master of it in a dozen years.  Take the half hour that you wait for breakfast, save an hour in the evening and devote it to well-directed work and you will be astonished at the progress you will make in a single month.  The achievements of a well-stocked mind, thoroughly conversant with one or more departments of knowledge, are like a fortune; they are saved and accumulated by slow accretions.  Broad intelligence, sound learning, extensive reading, clear thought, lie within the reach of any man who has the will and patience to make the most of his opportunities and devote a leisure hour to reading and study."

“In School and Out of School”
From The Successful Man in His Manifold Relations to Life, 1886
By J. Clinton Ransom

Graduation day is a great turning point in the lives of our young people. From childhood they have been at their books and exercises. They have pursued their studies with unwearied diligence, and have gone through many grades of promotion up to the last milepost of their school life. They have been crammed and dosed with language, numbers, science, and literature until they are glad to shake off the incubus of school work and step out into life with some of the rights and privileges of freeborn citizens. Fond parents and admiring friends talk of the finished education, and when the great day of graduation is over, the students of yesterday become the intellectual idlers of tomorrow. The boys go to their vocations, the girls to the idleness of home life or the frivolities of society, but neither of them ever study any more. They have done their books, received their diplomas and are through with their education. Rarely in later life do the “graduates” return to the studies of their youth. Still more rarely do they keep up their studies, after the last bouquets have fallen around the incipient orators of commencement day. There seems to be a surfeit of intellectual work in school and almost an entire absence of it out of school.
This tendency, we think, is all wrong and does much to bring discredit upon our present system of education. At present there is a pressing need of intellectual activity in our American homes. And I mean by this something more than reading novels and newspapers, magazines and continued stories. These may have their place and proper use; but they are very poor pabulum to nourish one’s intellectual life. There is a need of the continuation of the studies of our school-days. If the study of books is beneficial before graduation, it will be equally so afterward. If Political Economy, Botany, and History have a salutary effect upon the mind and life of the student this week, they will have the same effect upon him under the changed conditions of next week or next year. If the work of the senior year has been the most delightful and interesting part of your educational career, might not the same delights be extended indefinitely into the passing years? If the pursuit of knowledge had a charm for you under the guiding inspiration of the grand man whom you respect as teacher, can they be any the less so when you are permitted to wander at will into the rich regions of knowledge beyond you?
Graduation is but an imaginary line that ought to be regarded in no sense as a boundary. It should be only the beginning of a life-time devoted to pleasurable intellectual pursuits. It is hard to maintain an argument for sending a girl or boy to school for a decade of years, with the fact before us that he is justified in shutting his books at graduation and never opening them again. If Latin or Greek is worth studying in school, it is worth while to keep them up after we are done with school. If it is worth while to begin the study of history or literature, it is worth while to pursue them in the leisure hours of life, until we become well versed, in the knowledge and truth which they contain. We think it is unfortunate to make graduation day a “thus far and no farther” of literary culture and attainment.

One of the chief results of a true education is the cultivation of correct intellectual habits. Among these is a habit or taste for reading, that leads one continually to enlarge his fund of knowledge and traverse for himself the most delightful fields of literature. Another habit is that of reflection, by which the mind assimilates its knowledge and grows greater and greater as the years go by. With such habits formed, our education is only begun at graduation day. We hold then only the keys that are to unlock a vast treasure-house stored with the accumulations of ages.
But, says one, our busy lives leave no time for study and reading. Our energies are exhausted and our time consumed in the harrowing duties of daily toil. We have no time for your ideal of continuous study. In reply I have only to point you to some of the world’s great workers to show the utter falsity of such a position. William Cullen Bryant edited a New York daily for many years; but even under the pressure of such great responsibility he managed to write poems and translate the Iliad of Homer into matchless English verse. Mr. Gladstone has been three times Prime Minister of England, and, with the weight of English State upon him, he is one of the most profound Greek scholars of the world, and has published numerous volumes written with most creditable literary skill. Every man wastes more than time enough to make him famous. Half an hour a day saved from the wasted moments of your life and devoted to any field of inquiry will make you master of it in a dozen years. Take the half hour that you wait for breakfast, save an hour in the evening and devote it to well-directed work and you will be astonished at the progress you will make in a single month. The achievements of a well-stocked mind, thoroughly conversant with one or more departments of knowledge, are like a fortune; they are saved and accumulated by slow accretions. Broad intelligence, sound learning, extensive reading, clear thought, lie within the reach of any man who has the will and patience to make the most of his opportunities and devote a leisure hour to reading and study. Such a man is more capable, put him where you will. He will succeed where the empty-headed man that threw his books aside at graduation will fail. The education of the school should thus be followed by the education of mature years

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

BSFSH

BSFSH is based on an idea from Jocko Willink's excellent book Discipline Equals Freedom:  A Field Manual.  In it, amongst the very many other really good ideas he talks about, he speaks to the struggle against our worst enemy, our own lack of will - and how if something does not make you better, stronger, faster or smarter, it is something to be avoided completely.

And thus, BSFSH (Better, Stronger, Faster, Smarter, Holier - my addition) was born.

In a way, it is a very simple rubric.  Starting with my activities and my restated goals, I can query each and every one of them:

Will it make me better?  Will it make stronger?  Will it make me faster?  Will it make me smarter?  Will it make me holier?

If not, it is something I need to avoid, phase out of my life, or replace.

An example would be weight lifting - it makes me stronger.  Or Iai, which makes me better, stronger, faster, and smarter (almost the quinfecta).  Whereas something like eating doughnuts every day or choosing to watch things which neither recharge nor educate nor refresh do none of these things.

Try it.  Go through your life and ask the questions.  The answers might surprise you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Middle Age Madness: Restating Goals

Yesterday I noted how I had come to understand how Middle Age Madness - that depression caused by the gulf of a man's aspirations and dreams and goals versus his life as it actually is - can come to be a factor and equally, how our society as a whole tends to ignore it, pretend it does not exist, or simply countenance it as "guys being guys".

Surely there is a solution here, one that is practically applicable.

In reviewing my own gulf, I realized that it was not that I never had goals - I set them every year - but the goals that I set and how I came about choosing them.

In the past, my selection process has always be around one of a series of paradigms:   The Rule of Five (in that we have a limited ability to focus), The Seven Traits of Personality, or simply making a list.  In each and every case, no matter what the model, I realized that they all contained the same inherent flaw:  they were a mixture of degrees of control.

I have set grandiose goals in the past around finance or career, for example -  numbers that I was going to hit or debts I was going to pay or positions I was going to reach.  What I realized is that I only have partial - or very little - control over such goals.  I can make all the efforts in the world but if they are dependent on other factors outside my control, my chances of accomplishing them can range from "possible" to "absurdly likely to fail".

On the other hand, the goals that I was most successful at achieving were the ones that were 100% under my control.  My weight, for example:  I 100% control my caloric intake, my exercise, and my aerobic practices.  A failure to meet such a goal means that I have 100% failed, as those factors are within my control.  Or Iai as another example:  I control how much I practice and how much effort I put into learning the katas.  I am 100% responsible of my success or failure in this area.

And so on.  Looking at my goals, I realized that I had stated those that I can completely control and those I cannot with the same force of words and expectation of achievement.  Thus, when I do not achieve those things that (due to something being outside of my control) I could never achieve, I become depressed.  Make and lose enough goals that way, one's life becomes devoid of meaning.

(In passing, I wonder if this is another factor of Middle Age Madness:  the fact that the activities that are chosen are 100% under the control of the individual).

The solution?  Start reviewing and restating goals.

I started this over the weekend, going through my list of goals for 2018 and ruthlessly cutting down or out anything which I could not completely 100% control.  The result was that I was left with a smaller list of goals, but one that is a great deal more achievable.

I do not wish to pretend that somehow restating goals is the cure to Middle Age madness.  To say so would be simplistic as there are many other factors (relationships, career, income) which contribute to such a thing.  But neither do I wish to pretend that nothing can be done, or at least attempted.  Perhaps my goals will become a bit less grandiose and more pedestrian for the remainder of my years - but it is equally certain I have a great deal better chance of attaining them.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Middle Age Madness

In a blinding flash of light last week, I suddenly understood why middle age people - mostly men- "suddenly" have affairs, buy expensive things, develop risky hobbies, or kill themselves.

(Note:  None of these things are actually occurring in my life.  Just had an epiphany, that is all).

It came last week in the middle of some rather long hours at work when, coming home one night feeling completed exhausted and burnt out, I chanced to mention my concerns.  "But this is what you wanted, right?" responded The Ravishing Mrs. TB.  "A responsible position, correct?"

Which was precisely true, of course.  But in the midst of feeling like my life was rapidly being consumed by work, that achievement suddenly did not seem like something of note.

She pressed me.  "I understand that it is a lot of work like now, but what would do if you were not doing this?  What are your goals? Maybe you cannot fit them into your work life, but you should work on fitting them into your free time."

I shrugged back. "I am not sure anymore what my goals are."

That statement took me aback.  And made me think a great deal more.

There comes a time in a man's life where the realization that you are closer to dying than being born.  A time when you suddenly realize that contrary to your hopes, goals, or dreams, the remaining portion of your life will (to a great deal) be governed by your career (which, at your age, is probably the career you will keep until the end of your work life - starting over at 50+ is difficult).  If you are lucky you can get 10 or 15 years of retirement - but truly, at some level of declining health and energy (for the most part). 

In other words, somewhere along the line you passed as good as it is going to get.  And you may have missed it.

How do men react?   One of two options:  the first is by trying to re-engage the "thrill" of the younger life.  They get a new risky hobby like skydiving or motorcycles or living dangerously or get a new girlfriend to make them feel younger - or in desperation, that decide that the future is simply not what they thought it would be and decide not to be in it.  In either case, they have decided to hit the "reset" button on their lives in the rather vain hope that somehow these things will either fill the gulf that has developed in their live or end it entirely.

The equally foolish part, of course, is that our culture does not address this fact at all.   Churches, for the most part, gloss over any sort of life event like this happening or paint a veneer of "season of life" over something which is far more profound.  Counseling will most likely either tell you accept the despondency or continue on with the wild behaviors.  And society - at least that part of society right now that sees men as merely one more kind of evil - will either cluck their tongues and shake their heads or wish that more men simply chose to disappear, figuratively in their madness or literally.

Do I have a solution?  Not fully, but partially (more on that tomorrow).  But even my partial solution will not address the very real issue of a crisis that we simply ignore or pretend is not occurring - even to those trapped inside of it.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Seeking Righteousness and Justice

"Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself.  We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is - Never look for justice, but never cease to give it." - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Few Words From...Tecumseh

"When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home." 
-Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief (1768-1813) 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Change Is In The Air

Well, not in the big air anyway, but in the little air.

Both The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I have commented at different times upon the same thing.  All of a sudden it feels like we are slightly out of place here now.  Things do not seem to quite be as pleasing and pleasant as they used to be.  The jobs are meeting needs, but all of a sudden they are starting to feel as if they could go on forever and there would be no real sense of accomplishment.

Our friends, perhaps as if by design, have moved away - if not physically, than in closeness.  The activities that used to bring enjoyment (perhaps at this moment for me, with the exceptions of Iai and continuing to serve the rabbits) no longer bring the same thrill.  Everything has a certain pall cast over it.

We are reaching a change, of course.  This year will be the last year for the middle child, Nighean Gheal, to be in high school as well as the youngest, Nighean Dhonn, to be in grammar school.  Close to this time next year we will be a single child household.

But it does not just seem to be those facts.  The wind murmurs "Change".  Every time I drive to work, the landscape says "Change".  Even the moonlight that I sometimes practice under says "Change".

Change is, I think, coming.  And I think we are all ready.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Results and Roses


The man who wants a garden fair,
or small or very big,
With flowers growing here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can attain.
Whate'er we want of any worth
We've got to work to gain.

It matters not what goal you seek,
It's secret here reposes:
You've got to dig from week to week
To get Results or Roses.”

- Edgar Guest (1881-1959)



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On Incivility

We are facing a grave crisis of incivility.

"Civility:  Civilized conduct, especially courtesy, politeness" (Thanks, Merriam-Webster.com)

Civility, in other words, is the ability to conduct ourselves as a civilization.  To manage ourselves with courtesy towards one another, especially towards those with whom we disagree with.  To be polite even when we fundamentally feel like the other person is wrong.

That has been tossed by the wayside in large part, it seems.  People that we disagree with are no longer wrong, they are evil. They are not misinformed, they are willing believing and acting on the worst intentions. 

In other words, they are no longer our fellow citizens.  They are the enemy.

A society cannot long stand this sort of stress, of course.  Incivility picks away at every bond that binds a culture together.  It is the opposite of civilized of course, and given long enough, incivility gives way to uncivilized.  People choose sides.  And suddenly the side that started the incivility finds that the other side has adopted the same behavior and is acting just the same way.  And the cycle increases in intensity and speed.

How long can such things last?  I do not have a timer to tell this, of course.  I do know that from the time of the first revolution of the Gracchi to the victory of Caesar it was approximately 85 years or so, and 19 years to go from the 1905 disturbances in Russia to the rise of Stalin and that it only took 14 for Germany to go from defeat in WWI to Hitler taking power in 1932.  So things tend accelerate.

The difficulty with civilization, of course, is that everyone misses it after it is gone - especially those who enjoyed its benefits as they tore at its vitals.  For the natural, uncivilized world is a very deadly and dangerous place indeed.

Monday, July 16, 2018

"I Feel Like...."

Of all the phrases to emerge in the last 10 years, the one I cannot stand more than any other is "I feel like.."

It typically is used in the context where previously one would have used such phrases as "I believe" or "I think" or "I theorize" - in other words, where there is a sense that something is known or occurred but it is not definitively recalled as such.

But "I feel" indicates, more than anything else I can think of, the degradation of our ability to think and reason in our society.

Feelings are personal.  Feelings are also something that one cannot argue against:  my feelings are my feelings and therefore (in this current age) legitimate.  "I feel like"  often means I am intuiting that something happened although I cannot produce a more firm knowledge base

It means that feelings have reached the point where they have the same value and currency as knowledge.  " I know" almost sounds too harsh now, too definitive.  "I feel like" has a softer sound, allowing me to withdraw from an incorrect fact or understanding simply by realizing that my feeling was not real, either through mis-remembering or just having the wrong "feeling".

"I know", "I believe", and "My understanding was" are all phrases that point to a determination of mind and spirit that knows things as they are presented, not intuited.  They sound harsh and decisive simply because they are.  They deal in the world of facts.  Feelings, by contrast, live in the realm of the theoretical.

Be strong.  Be decisive.  Know.  Believe.  Understand.  But keep your "feelings" for the actual exercise of emotions, not facts.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

On Caring For One's Self

"You are under obligation to the wise and to the foolish; are you the only one to whom you deny yourself?  Fool and sage, salve and free man, rich and poor, male and female, old and young, clerk and lay, just and wicked:  all have a like share in you, all drink at the public fountain of your heart, and will stand apart and thirst?  If the man who squanders his portion is accursed, what of the one who wholly renders himself destitute?  Certainly let your streams of water flow in the public squares; let men and beasts of burden and cattle slake their thirst; by all means water even the camels of Abraham's servant; but make sure you drink with the rest the water from your own well.  The stranger, says Scripture, is not to drink from it. Well, are you a stranger?  To whom are you not a stranger if you are a stranger to yourself?  In a word, if someone treats himself badly, whom will he treat well?" - Bernard of Clairvaux to Pope Eugenius III

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Few Words From...Robert Heinlein

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Visit to Home: Sutter's Fort

Sutter's Fort, located in Sacramento, CA, was the residence of Captain John (Johannes) Sutter, a native of Switzerland, from 1839-1849.  He had received a land grant of 48,000 acres from the Mexican officials and worked diligently to found a completely self-sufficient community.  His fort became the ending point for a number of wagon trains to California.

Approach to the Fort:


Inside the Fort:


Typical room for a pioneer family:



Cannon in a blockhouse:



The walls are 2.5 ft thick and 15-18 ft high (for an attack that never came)



Another shot for Reverend Paul and Glen:




Hoist for servicing and removing cannons from their carriages:


Kitchen:






Sutter had loom imported from Europe and had a rather good blanket manufacturing business going:


Sutter's other claim to fame, of course, is Sutter's Mill in Coloma California, where gold was discovered in the tail race of his mill in 1848.  Sadly, he was essentially wiped out in the ensuing Gold Rush and spent his declining years trying to receive restitution from the US Federal government for the loss of his lands (it never came).

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Half A Score And A Little More Years Ago...

....there was a guy (that would be me) that decided he would make a splash in the then still relatively nascent blogosphere.  You know - write deep thoughts, be quoted, earn a living purely from the recommendations of recommendations from the vastness and depths of his thoughts.

Somewhat sadly, that guy's dreams expired rather quickly.  However, the remaining results have been somewhat entertaining, if nothing else.

Yes, this is my 13th anniversary here at TheFortyFive, keeping the InterWeb safe for...well, I am not sure for whom, really.  2900 posts and change at this point (ironically, I only had three posts in 2005.  Two on the same day). 

Originally (all joking aside) my original hope was to have one "those" blogging careers (The Forty Five, for which this blog is named, refers to the gallant but doomed uprising in Scotland which ended at The Battle of Culloden).  However, I quickly found that 1)  writing is hard; and 2)  I am not much for conflict, written or spoken.

What did come out of this - sometime in 2008 - was a sort of online blogging journal, the sort of thing I had been keeping since 1989.  It first became a practice, then a habit - a habit which has reached the point that if I do not account for posting at least five days a week, I feel unfinished.

The audience, I believe, has changed over the years.  Originally it was individuals that I knew locally (whom in some cases still lurk, but in many cases have moved on). What it came to be in many cases was a group of individuals, like-minded in some ways if not all and who (for the most part) blog themselves (and my father, who reliably reads every morning as soon as it is published).  I am been fortunate to meet people from (literally) all over the world, doing in there own small way a version of what I am trying to do:  personal independence of life and thought.

If you discount the occasional spikes of spammers (approximately once a month), I run 70-90 views a day.  Which are more eyes at least looking (and hopefully spending a moment or two in thought) than I could have ever hoped for.

The rules, which have been the same since around 2006, remain the same:  no profanity, no politics (but some political science -  there is a difference), no religion (except my own struggles in my Christian walk), but hopefully something to think about and chew on (or occasionally laugh at). 

I am not quite sure what all is in here at this point, but this blog has covered any number of lifetime sorts of events - my old job, losing my job, migrating to New Home, finding Throwing and Iai, with large splashes of depression and "I hate my job" thrown in, and then most recently my rather run of good luck.  So in a sense, it has surpassed the idea of a blog and has almost reached the stage of a life chronicle (which like most chronicles, will fade into dust or be viewed 100 years hence with a quizzical eyebrow from the researchers).

So, as always, thanks for stopping by.   We appreciate your patronage.  Please be sure to help yourself to a complimentary shot of homemade mead and some cheese at the door and come on it.  We still have a fair amount of ground to cover.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Visit to Home: Fort Ross

Fort Ross was (Крѣпость Россъtr. Krepostʹ Ross) was the southernmost settlement of the Russian Empire on North American Soil.  It is located approximately 15 miles north of Bodega Bay in Northern California and was active from 1812-1841.  Originally founded to support the Russian-American company in its fur trading activities, it transitioned to an agricultural support location for the colonies in Russian Alaska.  It also served as a diplomatic point between the Spanish (and later Mexican) empires and the Russian empire.

Walking Up:


The main courtyard:

 Rotchev House:  House of the last commandant of the fort and the only original surviving structure:










Out the front gate to the Pacific Ocean.  The path goes down to a bay:


Inside the courtyard:

Inside one of the two blockhouses:



Cannon:

Orthodox Church.  It is still occasionally used;



Inside Kuskov House, the residence of all commandants prior to Rotchev:



Armory (For Reverend Paul and Glen):



These are a view of what the trading store would have looked like.  Keep mind there was probably nothing like this for several hundred miles in any direction:



From the window of the other blockhouse:



Outside the Fort:



A reconstruction of one of the two windmills at the fort (these were the first windmills in California).  This is a hand built reconstruction of Russian Pine by Russian craftsmen:



As you can guess from the amount of pictures, Fort Ross is just about my favorite state park in California.  I have always felt that this period of time, the intersection of Native American, Russian, and Spanish/Mexican cultures was one of the greatly unknown and underinvestigated parts of California history