Monday, August 19, 2019

On Blackberries

During my walk at The Ranch, I came across blackberry vines (numerous times):

I have an ambivalent relationship with blackberry vines.  On the one hand, I appreciate the fact that they produce blackberries.  As someone that occasionally walks his family's land, I deplore them for the fact that they seem to take over everything and make water access virtually impossible if left unchecked.  But it has been a very long time since I have been there when I was in season.

On a whim, I started picking them off and putting them into my hand to take back to the house.  The berries were literally right along the side of the road, tart and ready to be eaten.

Picking them, in the cool of the morning and the silence of nothing but birdsong, brought back a flood of memories.  We would pick blackberries when I was young, driving up to the family land where the old mining claim was from when my ancestors came out to the plot of land where the family house used to be before it burned.  My grandparents and my parents would pick the blackberries while my sister and I would pick for a little while, then get bored and follow the drainage ditch from the mine for a while or look for melted glass where the house had stood.  The blackberries, those that we did not eat, would come out over the year as blackberry jam.

We have not had blackberry jam in years (the store bought stuff, without seeds to crunch, is useless) and I have not been near a blackberry plant in fruit for at least 11 years.  It comforts me to know that such simple pleasures still exist and, when called upon, can still yield forth their store of stories.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Ranch, Summer 2019

As promised, pictures from the Ranch in Summer:

From the house:

The Lower Meadow:

Walking along the road to the main road:

Madrone tree:

The Lower Meadow.  Still a little water in the seasonal pond:

The cut line from last year.  You can already see the scrub brush popping back up.

My father planted a pear and apple tree.  Both have fruit this year!

Middle Meadow towards the Lower Meadow:

Upper Meadow:

Due to the tree felling for the power lines, there is a lot of wood:

Back towards the house:

I have never seen this flower before:

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Collapse XXVIII: Silence And Darkness

30 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

I am sorry I have not penned you a few notes in almost a week; a combination of both much to do and little to write about.

I believe (by my running count) it has now been 5 days consecutively that I have seen no traffic at all – none. Not a car, a truck, a motorcycle, even one of those four wheel contraptions (I can never remember what they are called) which passes for a safer version of a motorcycle.

The Valley has gone incredibly quiet.

Oh, one can still hear noises, of course: occasional gas or electric powered motors for mowers or weed-eaters (although those have diminished as well), dogs barking, once or twice a child’s laughter. But that has really become the exception. My days are now filled with a vast lack of noise, so quiet I can hear the cowbells a mile away or the crack of deer through the dry grass as they come up for the evening.

I have taken to sitting out in the evenings after dusk (mosquito spray – such a useful thing. How I am going to miss it). We still have power of course, so I can at least write these to you, so there is still the hodge podge of lights at night which form our little settlement, but somehow everything seems dimmer and less bright. Lights are going off earlier in the evening for sure, either from a fear the electric bill will eventually come due or a reality check that soon enough, light will be much more limited.

It is odd, Lucilius, that we have come to believe that light represents civilization. In some ways, I suppose that is true: outside of accidental fires, only man makes fire and the output of fire, light. So many of our activities – most of them in fact – rely in some fashion on light. Without manufactured light (like electricity) or stored light (like candles and fire) our range of motion in the larger world truly becomes limited to daylight hours, and even the best of those being daylight hours with sun ( a challenge someplace like here, where at best we get eight solid hours of daylight in Winter and much of that overcast.) To me, at least, light – more than any other aspect – is a sign of civilization.

And so I sit here in my chair at night, with most of the lights going out far earlier, leaving only the moon and the stars to shine as brightly as they ever did before we started lighting up the sky to the point that we could not really see them.

It is not that the dark depresses me, Lucilius. It is the fact that I can feel a larger darkness settling over everything like a thick blanket.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Not Of This Age?

I sometimes feel lost in time.

I enjoy the benefits of the modern age.  I like air conditioning in summer.  I like hot water on command.  I enjoy regular showers, clean clothes, and overall good physical health with minimal or no major diseases.

And yet, I often find myself ill at ease in the modern age.

Everything moves so incredibly fast.  I am constant caught up in a turbulent cycle of news and action.  Things always demand my attention.  Technology seems just on the precipice of overwhelming me.  And too often I am either thrust into a mass of people whom I bump up against like marbles in a bag or utterly abandoned.

And, of course, the knowledge I care for - history, literature, language, philosophy, theology, even agriculture- is largely relegated to the fringes of society as so much of it is seen as not as useful as technical skills.

I keep feeling like - at least mentally and emotionally - I belong in another age.

That does not really help anything of course, as I am sort of stuck in the age I am in.  It is not like I have a time machine or something (and even then, I cannot really see that going well for me).  

The next question became "Could I live as if I did live in another age?"

Apparently this may or may not be a thing - whether it be Viking re-enactors (see the videos if you can - some amazing craftsmanship and battles!) or something called "Retroculture" of which I am not sure how much of a thing it is or not - the premise being you choose a period and live in it as much as possible.

I do not know quite what to do with this concept.  In theory I like it - but how does it work out practically?  It is not as if I can abandon my computer at work or (realistically) dump my cell phone.  But there are things I can do - attitude, manners, language, even dress - to maybe move myself a bit down that path.

No big commitments or changes yet - but something I am definitely pondering.  After all, what do I have to lose?

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Few Words From....Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

“A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life […] Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”

(HT:  Survival Blog)

Friday, August 09, 2019

One Wedding And A Visit

Hi Friends!  As you read this I am probably just stirring to get up for the morning - but later today I am getting on a plane and flying home.  It will be a relatively short - but eventful - visit:  my sister in-law is getting married and then I am staying for another two days with Nighean Gheal to see my parents.

I am looking forward to this visit - I always do, of course, but it has been a rather long time since I have been to The Ranch in August.  It is hot and dry at that point - there will undoubtedly be pictures; prepare yourselves that it will show a lot of dry grass.

But there really is no place like home.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

The Collapse XXVII: No More Shopping

24 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Before anything else my friend, thank you for the pictures! You all look very well indeed, and your bride is indeed as stunning in photo as she was in your description. I am hopeful that someday I will be able to meet here in person.

First, a bit of old news. I strolled down to the Post Office to do my weekly check of mail – really just waiting for the last few items I had ordered. They were there, thankfully, as was a notice that this post office was going from deliveries once a week to no deliveries at all. Items could now be picked up at the main post office for this region, 25 miles away. There was some additional language there I sort of breezed over as well about “cost savings” and “continuing to serve the public”.

On the bright side, I have now received all my packages. On the less bright side, I have lost my supply of easy junk mail for fire starters.

And today, I made what I suspect is my final drive to a town what may be a very long time.

The town is the one 25 miles away, the largest perhaps in either direction until you reach the city where I did my usual Big Box Shopping. I have been weighing the cost/benefit ratio of going soon enough while there are still things to buy that I need versus spending the gas – my guess is I have about 200 miles left plus whatever I have in my gas cans. This would consume about ¼ of my available fuel.

But the notice from the post office spooked me: if I did not go now, it would probably not be much longer until the larger town (in turn) was no longer getting anything either.

Driving on a road with absolutely no traffic was the most uncomfortable experience I can remember in some time. Yes, we live in a fairly rural area – but I am used so seeing some traffic (with the seemingly obligatory hand wave in this part of the country). My drive, for the most part, was devoid of anyone.

In my drive, I passed through two small towns: both true Old West style ghost towns, both state parks, both tourist dependent. In the first one there was nothing – even the Country Cowboy church tent that has been there almost as long as I have (along with their trailer) was gone. The second town, the larger one, was also devoid of any traffic, although there were signs of civilization as this was a more permanently inhabited town (and the county seat). I slowed to the in-town speed limit and passed a county sheriff who tracked me all the way from his location to the end of town. It was uncomfortable.

From there, it is up the grade and then down the grade into the regional center.

There was a little moving traffic here and people were out.

My needs were few: Grocery store, hardware store, and whatever passed for a feed store in town if I could find one.

The grocery store was first. The shelves were pretty well denuded of any basic sorts of supplies. Still a little sugar and salt, which I bought more to have than for actual needs. A few packaged of beans, somewhat surprisingly. No fresh produce at all. Prices were higher than I expected but not “extravagant”. The young lady at the check out counter made sure she pointed out the “Cash only” sign on the register. “The credit card machine is in and out” she explained a bit embarrassed after I pulled out my wallet.

She asked where I was from – when she found out, she asked how things were over there. “Quiet”, I responded, and mentioned that the post office had finally announced that there were no more deliveries and our traffic had dropped to nothing. She nodded. “Lots of locals left here, but no tourists. The trucks make their weekly delivery on Thursdays; it looks like this the day after every time now.”

I left here a $20 as a tip. She was painfully grateful. Given those prices, I cannot imagine how people in her position are going to survive without any tourist base at all.

The hardware store was next. My need here was piping – not that (again) I needed any, but it was the most likely thing to go. As well as piping insulation.

The store here was better stocked. They had my needs: six foot runs of PVC, metal piping for the plumbing along with fittings for replacement and insulation. I also picked up a gasoline pump for hand transferring gasoline to and from a truck as well as some of that gasoline stabilizer– you would have think I would have purchased such things long ago, but who thinks of such things when the power is on? The conversation with the older man at the counter – the owner, no doubt – was much the same. Business was slow at best and deliveries were becoming more spotty.

The feed store was my last stop – and there, I was flat out of luck. It was locked up and a sign on the front saying “Out of Business – Locals contact” and had a phone number attached. Apparently, regionalism was already setting in.

For my own interest, I took a drive down the main drag of town, the tourist part where (during happier times) a thriving throng of out of towners passed in and out, generating income to see folks through the fall and winter. No crowds thronged through now and about half of the shops had open signs on them, although I could not tell by looking if they were open or not.

I did stop by the local ATM for a cash update. Here it was even worse - $40 daily withdrawal. I took my $40, which did not even make up for everything that I had purchased.

I could have stayed longer. I turned about and headed home.

The drive home was...uncomfortable. Not that I saw anyone or anything. It was just the sense as I climbed the grade up back from one valley to another that this might be the last time I ever saw this view. I sat at the top for a while, just staring. Then headed on.

I reached home without incident (other than the uncomfortable sheriff, who again watched me as I diligently held to the speed limit), unloaded my pipes and parts and put them away, and then fed everyone. Dinner was smoked fish and dried apples.

I do not think I will be going shopping again, Lucilius. There is little enough left for me to buy and I am almost out of ready money, not that I think that paper money will mean much in the near future. At this point, the gasoline has more value as a trade item than it does to drive me somewhere.

I wonder if I can convince someone to just purchase my truck?

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Trying To Find My Way Home

From yesterday's discussion, children leaving the nest are not the only thing that is probably going to change in the next few years.  What I am doing will probably change as well.

As super blessed as I have been in my current job, the reality is that at some point, that job is going away - through a buyout, through a bankruptcy, through a "We are looking to succeed and you no longer fit the position...".  It is coming.  And it is the after that which is interesting.

There is simply not enough of what I do here where we currently live that I can expect to find a position, and because of my promotion and expansion of job duties, I have become less employable than ever as there is not a one-for-one transition between this position and other positions of similar titles (and the very real fact that I am in my "middle years", which often raises employment questions).  In point of fact, it is almost a certainty that I, at least, will have to relocate.

That is a hard thing to plan for, in case you are wondering:  preparing for a job transition that is probably coming (but maybe not) with no idea what the market will look like or what the positions will be .

And always, the sense that I really, really, want to go home and finally do the agricultural things I have wanted to do for 25 years.

Life is not that clean, of course.  You usually cannot back your way into something; rather, you have to out and get it.  Which is hard, given the uncertainty of what the future looks like.

But this much I know:  I badly want to go home and shed so much of this world.  I just need to start finding a way to make that happen.

Monday, August 05, 2019

A Busy Month

So in this month one child heads off to Italy for the year, one child heads to University of Texas, and one starts high school.

Life sneaks up on you like this some time.

The first one leaving was, well expected.  Even the second one going, while moving a bit more quickly, was (again) expected.

It is the youngest going to high school that compounds the issue.

In about the period of 3 months, we are going from two at home full time to three full time at home to one full time at home.  That, my friends, is a pretty significant change.

In some aspects, I am playing for time.  This is far more disturbing to The Ravishing Mrs. TB than it is to me (and it is somewhat unsettling to me), so I have effectively left the discussion off the table.  It is still there in the back of my mind though, looming a little larger every day.

I know (in the back of my head, because that is the way things are) that once high school starts it will be over faster than I can imagine.  Things have a way of doing that.

I had not expected to be here so quickly, or have to make an entirely new set of decisions about the course of our lives in such a short period of time.

But that, I suppose, is really nature of time and life.  It just moves on.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Another Work Update

A bit of personal news.

So for the midyear stretch, I received an 11% pay increase. For those you keeping track, that is a total increase of 108% over my starting salary when I entered this position just short of 3 years ago.

To say this is amazing and stunning to me is at best an understatement.  For the record, I am officially making a rather stupid amount of money.

I am grateful, of course- with two children now in college and living in one of the fastest growing cities in the US, it could not come at a better time.  And I would say that I feel that I have earned it, if only measured by the amount of stress and hours that have been put into getting to this point.

And humbled, of course.  I have said for years that outside of IT, only the biopharmaceutical industry could have given me the ability to see such incredible career growth in such a short period of time.  I am blessed beyond words.

Here is to hoping I continue to show myself worthy of it.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Out Of Touch

I wonder if getting older always means feeling out of touch with your times.

If one was born in the 1840s, one could have lived to see the automobile from a horse-drawn childhood.  If one lived in the 1300s, one could have seen the initial rise of gunpowder that would eventually transform all of warfare.  In the late 1400s, one could have gone from the relative grayness of the Medieval world to the glory of the Italian Renaissance.

How would that have felt?  Would it feel the same as now - times being different, of course - as we have moved from analog to digital, from computers as big as houses only available to governments and large companies to computers in our pockets?

And this just addresses the change of technology - it does not cover social changes, dietary changes,and even the change in the ability to be almost anyway in the world within 24 hours.

In some sense we all adapt, of course - it is not as if I do not make use of a microwave or a cell phone - but how comfortable does this all seem?  Not terribly so, at times.

The young, of course, think that the world will always go on as they now have it, not realizing (as arguably the wisdom of age tells us) that they, too, are on a limited track of life "as it has always been".  In 30 years they will be confronted with things never imagined in their youth and early adulthood, things which change the way that life is done and suddenly become indispensable to every day living.  Perhaps they, too, will begin to feel that life has moved beyond them and with a strange nostalgia, look back on the "old days" when they felt comfortable in a world they knew.

And perhaps as well, they will suddenly realize that those that had gone before them were not the Luddites or fools that they had taken them to be.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Failure Day 2019

Happy Failure Day!

Failure Day, as you might recall (it has been some time since I have written about it) is the day that, in 2005, the real estate company I had founded with my friend officially went under.  We made the decision to end the company and fired ourselves.

In doing this, I found myself to be sitting in the bank with perhaps one month's salary, the remaining month or two of health care, no job prospects, a house payment I could not afford (because it was based on a salary that I had never achieved), three children including a 3 month old, and no other outside income (The Ravishing Mrs. TB was staying at home at the time).  It beat the previous two months in that we had a closing (that June we were literally down to $200 in my emergency savings).

There is a certain kind of grimness that comes from failing a business you have created, a certain bitterness when you realize that you were the one that brought yourself to this place.  You were the one that made the choice to abandon a career field you knew and take a shot at something else.

The outcome?  The immediate outcome, not so good.  By the time all was said and done (and it took 4 years to completely work itself out) I had probably lost over $250,000 in the salary I would have made, stocks I sold to give us working capital, and the Home Equity Line Of Credit I opened and the 401K I liquidated to pay it off as well as the equity I gave up in the perfectly good house we were living in for the new overpriced house that we bought and eventually had to sell at the cost of the loan (which ate up everything we paid for the previous five years). 

Did I learn things?  Of course I did.  I learned a certain self confidence that has never left me, that I can do things that I never thought I could.  I learned I could read and negotiate million dollar contracts.  I learned you need to pay a lot more attention to the bottom line as an owner than any employee ever thinks.  And I learned that the power of determining how to fill your days - instead of having them filled for you - is priceless.

Would I consider it worth it?  The jury is still out, even after 14 years.  The knowledge I gained could probably have come only in that circumstance (e.g., pushing myself out there) but the end results were not the sort of thing that I would have wanted to put myself or my family through.  The financial damage is mostly undone (but the time and compound interest will never return); the scars maybe less so.

But even after all this time, I remember that crushing moment when I consciously made the decision to end my involvement in something I had hoped was going to go so well. Watching something that you considered a dream die is hard enough; being the one to put it out of its misery harder still.

Happy Failure Day.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

The Collapse XXVI: From Lucilius

21 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Thank you for your missive of 19 August 20XX. I am indeed very pleased to hear that my e-mails continue to arrive and that you are as well as can be expected, given the circumstances. It is comforting to me as well to know that you have seen Sextus as well and that he is doing as well as you are – as well as we all can be, given the times. Send my greetings on to him and Placidia and their family the next time you see them.

You are rather a sly old dog to just mention offhand in the middle of the letter that you and Augusta had suddenly married! What joy I have in an old friend finding love again! The timing for these things is always suspect – frankly, I cannot imagine a more “interesting” time to start as a newlywed all over again. Even in times of chaos, the human spirit can still try new things. This comforts me greatly.

You asked me about the offer that Sextus had made to you and Augusta, about moving in with them until things parse themselves out. My opinion (as it is what you asked me for) is that you should do this as quickly as time and circumstances allow. It is what – a 10 mile trip one way to his house? Easy enough to transport you, your new lovely bride, and your library to his house for the duration, especially if he and Placidia are willing. There is nothing that would make my heart more glad than to know that you (and your wife, apparently!) were somewhere as safe as you can be in the current circumstances.

And how troubling they sound, Lucilius. The stories I read are the sorts of stories I remember reading about Mogadishu and Kabul and Harare, once upon a time in my youth: riots, violence, a breakdown of basic social services and basic utilities. The videos are at best appalling and at worst, disturbing. The written reports I can find – not all of them through the effectively approved government media, of course – paint an equally disturbing picture. And behind all of it, the looming specter of a lack of fuel, which eventually means a lack of ability to go anywhere else.

I do appreciate you and Augusta’s concern (as well as Sextus’ from what you said) about myself. Please be at ease, and put others at ease as well. I am indeed effectively on my own, but I am in a place where that is not the obstacle that it would be in an urban setting. And there is a community of sorts around me – the same ones that produced our July 4th extravaganza – that I occasionally see glimmers of a larger sort of social contract which might emerge (although I question that this is the tabula rasa that Rousseau was referring to). I am well provided, well fed, and well-libraried up (if that is a thing), and the rabbits bear with my occasional bouts of loneliness well.

Be careful and be well, my friend. Take Sextus up on his generous offer.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca.

P.S. I note that your missive was completely devoid of pictures. Good heavens Lucilius: if you can create and forward a letter, you can surely forward the pixels that make up the wedding photos. Get with it, man! I have not seen you in a tuxedo in almost 40 years – I demand photographic evidence that this actually occurred!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Main Thing Is To Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing

This last Sunday, my pastor used as part of his message the phrase (who knows where it originated "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing". 

Most of us of a certain age chuckle, of course, as this is the sort of thing that coaches, business leaders, and teachers have been saying for years on end.  It is a simple truth, one so foundational that we probably all take it for granted, of course.

But oddly enough, let us take a moment to consider such a statement being made at a church:  "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing".

What is the main thing the church is supposed to be doing?  Going into the world and preaching the gospel of Christ and making disciples.  Pretty straightforward.  And what is the gospel of Christ?  That everyone has fallen short of the glory of God through our sin but that Christ died to forgive our sin and that believing in Him, we may have eternal life.

Seems pretty straightforward, right?  "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing".

But what is the main thing for so many churches?  The gospel - plus.  The gospel plus political activism, the gospel plus social activism, the gospel plus this or that wrong that must be righted.

Any time something becomes "The Gospel with..." it is not the gospel.  Or at least the gospel alone. It is tying something to the gospel such that one cannot be discussed (in the context of those propagating it) without the other.  In other words, the main thing is not keeping the main thing the main thing, but rather the sort of main thing with a series of very important provisos and riders.

No wonder it feels like for so many churches that they are failing.  They failed to keep the main thing the main thing.  And without that driving factor, you will neither succeed in business nor win championships - nor actually do the will of God.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Loss of Reality

We are losing the ability to view and discuss things realistically.

The natural world, of course, runs on realism.  We refer that sort of realism as natural laws, or gravity, or the water cycle.  A spark hits dry grass, a wildfire is created.  If a rock is dropped, it falls.  Predators hunt and eat prey.  And there are fifty thousands ways for us to die when we mistake reality for the way I want things to be  e.g. I cannot fly or breathe underwater no matter how hard I try.

But when it comes to everything else - social interactions, society, finances, political interactions - reality has been driven from the room.

There are any number of ways to define it - political correctness, social consciousness, just plain shutting people down - but the end result is that conversations and dialogues are being forced into narrow, pre-planned channels where debate and discussion are neither welcomed nor tolerated.

Take forest management - a thing close to my heart as it is a constant threat where my parents live.  Well managed forests and land - like The Ranch my father has managed for 20 years and that was managed by him and my great uncle for years before that - has some risk of fire (always, of course) but not as high a risk because underbrush has been removed, dead trees thinned out, and the the forest is healthy.  But some, any sort of intervention in the forest - a single tree cut, a single underbrush removed - is evil because man destroying the environment (mind you, the forest fire does not just destroy the environment, it completely devastates it.).  Also, mind you, the Maidu that were there before anyone also set forest fires to clear parts of the forest for planting.  Typically such wisdom would be honored, but in this case it is carefully ignored.

Take what I have just related to any aspect or issue facing us today and, more than likely, you can walk out a similar scenario in your own mind.

Where does this all end up? Two places, really.  The first is internal to those societies, where it (eventually) stifles any sort of free thought or free speech or action.  Want to see what a society that does not tolerate dissent looks like?  Look to the history of the Soviet Union or Communist Eastern Europe, or to the now of Communist China.  Eventually the society becomes stagnant because no-one is willing to risk being shouted down (or worse).

The other place it ends up is for those societies that do see things realistically and act accordingly.  For them, they do as we do with the law of gravity or hydrology cycle: they take the confines of the rules and work within them to advance their goals and objectives.

Which, unfortunately, usually involves rolling over everyone else that refused to see things realistically.

We can deny gravity exists.  But ultimately we cannot escape it.

Monday, July 29, 2019

10 Years Of Iai

Approximately 10 years ago this week (or as near as I can figure), I walked into my first Iaijustu training.  I had only two semesters of martial arts under my belt some 20 years earlier and a single semester of European fencing.

I cannot honestly remember how I found my way to that website now - I had moved about a month earlier and was looking for something to get involved in.  I reached out to my-now Sensei and watched a class.  I enrolled the next week.

With the exception of very few things (this blog, for example) it is one of the longest activities I have ever kept up with.

What started me, of course, was fulfilling a life-long interest of learning to use a Japanese sword as it was meant to be used (or rather a bokuto, a wooden training sword -we do not use actual live blades) with the fullness of drawing and sheathing (unlike European fencing, which while involving great dexterity always felt slightly contrived to me).  But that is only a beginning, and if that is all one looks for, one will leave within a year or two.

What Iai has taught me in the intervening years is a great deal more.

It has taught me about dedication, about practicing something consistently day in and day out, sometimes with no sense of actually moving forward.  It has taught me that swordmanship is really just timing and distance - and that everything else in life is also just timing and distance.  It has made me study more, instilling in me the lifelong learning I have always enjoyed:  kata, kanji, even the powers of observation and thinking on my feet.  It has also enabled me to go to Japan two times so far, something I did twice once long ago but now view as an annual goal.

Iai changed my life.

Iai is not done with me yet, nor I with it.  I still have much to learn and much to perfect - after all, there is never mastery, only improvement.  But comforts me greatly to know that I can invest 10 years into an activity and that it ends up making a meaningful difference in my life.

Here is to 10 more.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Few Words From...Hank Williams Jr.

The preacher man says it's the end of time
And the Mississippi River she's a-goin' dry
The interest is up and the Stock Market's down
And you only get mugged if you go downtown

I live back in the woods, you see
My woman and the kids, and the dogs, and me
I got a shotgun, a rifle, and a 4-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

I can plow a field all day long
I can catch catfish from dusk 'til dawn
We make our own whiskey and our own smoke, too
Ain't too many things these old boys can't do
We grow good old tomatoes and homemade wine
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Because you can't starve us out
And you can't make us run
'Cause we're them old boys raised on shotgun
And we say "grace" and we say "Ma'am"
And if you ain't into that we don't give a damn

We came from the West Virginia coal mines
And the Rocky Mountains and the western skies
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trotline
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

I had a good friend in New York City
He never called me by my name, just hillbilly
My grandpa taught me how to live off the land
And his taught him to be a businessman
He used to send me pictures of the Broadway nights
And I'd send him some homemade wine

But he was killed by a man with a switchblade knife
For 43 dollars my friend lost his life
I'd love to spit some beech nut in that dude's eyes
And shoot him with my old .45
'Cause a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

'Cause you can't starve us out and you can't make us run
'Cause we're them old boys raised on shotgun
And we say "grace" and we say "Ma'am"
And if you ain't into that we don't give a damn

We're from North California and South Alabama
And little towns all around this land
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trotline
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive
Country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Collapse Letter XXV: Failing Commerce

17 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Our traffic has dwindled to almost nothing in the two weeks or so since my last shopping trip – in the past week, I have maybe seen six cars drive along the road that passes in front of my house.

Our little town, that had virtually no business in it, has almost none now. The RV park/bar is still open, but with no fuel and dwindling alcohol supplies there is little enough left to attract folk. Most of the RVs have left by now in search of fuel in towns farther away and I suspect the few remaining will follow – I have been counting them as I make my daily stroll around town to get out and stretch my legs. The campground I did my laundry at is still open as well, although even his supplies are dwindling as well.

Our post office/gas station has essentially become the post office and nothing else – the RVs leaving took the last of the fuel and it is unknown when, or even if, a replacement delivery will be made. The town gathers once a week now for mail delivery every Wednesday to parcel out the packages and letters that have been stored up (interestingly, junk mail still seems to make its way through. Good for kindling if nothing else).

By the end of the month, if not sooner, I suspect commerce will have completely died out here if nothing else changes.

The InterWeb suggests that the towns north and south of us still have supplies and are in business, but I suspect that everyone is holding out because of the risk of having no additional fuel – a round trip is not less than 50 miles to the nearest town of size and the need has to be balanced against the risk of wasting the fuel. I have been constructing a list of things that I think I will need to secure on one last trip; I keep trying to decide when I have reached the maximum amount of benefit of the trip versus the risk that things will start becoming depleted.

The quiet is amazing.

Without the traffic, the surrounding hills and even the town are almost dead quiet. One can hear the occasional shouts of children or the barking of dogs, or even the sound of cattle farther out. But really nothing else – human voices are kept low or inside and if people are playing music or the news, I surely cannot hear it.

I have lived through the time that men touched the stars; it seems that I will now live through the time that men scarcely hear or know their neighbors.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Changing Diet And Lifestyle

My fellow curmudgeon Glen Filthie has reported that his doctor has stated that he is overweight, pre-diabetic, and possibly pre-cancerous.  

Welcome to your 50's.

I have to admit that I have been having my own struggles with being post-50.  My knee is giving me some problems, which seem tied to my thigh muscle.  Actually, both of my knees are grumping at me now for some reason.  And there is this lovely twinge in my back that has never been there before.

And yes, I feel overweight and certainly have diabetes in my family.  Thanks for the reminder, friend Glen (Do try the bebimbop.  You will love it).

It is a good reminder that I need to start changing things and how I do them.

My knees, I truly believe, are in large part due to an increase in my weight - I have put on about 10 lbs and some amount of it is muscle, but some is fat is well, or at least I have not lost the side handles that are attached.  No idea on the back, but who knows?  Maybe related as well.

So like Glen, I am going to have to change my diet and my lifestyle.

No clear ideas yet, just a sense that I need to do it.  After all, with care and management I still have probably 30 good years left in me (or like my great grandmother, another 47).  Time to get busy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Trying To Disappear

I have to confess to you that the longer this year has gone on, the more and more I have been overcome by a desire and need to simply disappear from visibility.

It is not as if I have some amazing reason like my security has been compromised or I have been called out by someone  or wrongfully accused or anything like that. It is just that it feels more and more like the world is pushing into my business.

Between my cell phone, my e-mail at work, and various and sundry cameras spread all over, my presence is pretty much known.  Even now, Blogger can tell you precisely when I logged on to type this and when I uploaded it.  My every financial decision which is not cash based is known and even those which could be cashed based but for which the payment is in a computer system is known. 

My house, thankfully, is relatively free of this oppressive observation - except, of course, for all the cell phones herein, the streaming services which know what is being watched, and the utilities which records how much electricity is being expended to keep our summer heated house cool. 

In other words, even my retreat is effectively being watched.

I am working on small and minor ways to disappear, of course - every social media account I do not open, every cash purchase I make - all of these are very small acts of resistance against a seemingly all-encompassing foe.  But it is not really enough.

Freedom - true freedom, defined as freedom of privacy, the freedom to do something and have no-one know what was done, has almost disappeared in the world as we know it.  We are left with the few small crumbs we can eke out, the wattle barriers we throw up in hopes that the Roman juggernaut will enmesh its spears in them and so be unable to attack. 

I have added this to my list of goals over the next four years - I may not get there, but at least I can work to find ways to put space between me and the observation system.  Any thin layer of padding I can add, any mist I can conjur up, anything that pulls one stake out of my hide, is worth doing.

Free men and women value their privacy.  It is only those that value complete control that think they need to know everything about everyone.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Parts Are Parts

This weekend, I finally sorted out my parts tool box.

Anyone that has ever owned a home has one of these.  It is a collection of the various pieces and parts that either are needed to do a specific task or come with something as an assembly item or you have to buy a quantity of to get the part that you want.

Digging through it was a walk through history. Here were the slides I needed to extract my radio in 1996 and "upgrade" to CD that I never needed again along with the wire connectors in the handy 500 pack.  Here also was The Tomb of The IKEA Parts, the ones that are extra but you never really are sure you should get rid of just in case you need them.  Nails in the gross and wood screws of various sizes from various projects, from 1/4" nails to roofing nails and many different lengths of screws for the times you "thought" you had the right length but did not.  Light bulbs and fuses for cars long sold.  The radiator tightener you bought as a stop gap for the car you ended up having the radiator replaced on.  Locks with keys and locks with no keys and a combination lock from your wife's high school days that no-one remembers the combination of.

Parts and pieces; pieces and parts.

I sorted through them, trying my best to take a stern "Are you really going to use that?  Really?"  approach - at which I only gave mediocre performance as I know only too well how six months from now I will need that one screw length and I do not want to risk throwing it away in the event I do need it and then have to buy a gross (to be clear, I have very many of those indeed.  No danger of running out).  I ended up throwing away a few things and re-organizing the rest.

The tool box, at least, now closes.

As with my parts box, so my life.  Too many bits and pieces held on to in the event I might someday "need" them for some undefined purpose.  I reorganize and reorganize but, like my parts, eventually I just have to start getting rid of something.

After all, my life, like my tool box, should have the lid be able to completely close.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Few Words From...John Calvin

“For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by His fatherly care, that He is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond Him – they will never yield Him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in Him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to Him.”


Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Collapse XXIV: Books

14 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

The strangest thought hit me this afternoon: I may never buy another book again.

Do not misunderstand. It is not that I will never read another book again: my rather large library (and some of my wife's) made its way here with me and now happily lines the walls of my home. In a real sense, I do not have a library but live in one.

But if things are trending as they seem to be, I may never buy another one. Because who will make and sell them? And even if they were made and sold, where would I buy them?

I remember the transition over my life, from ordering books from book sales to small local bookstores to larger chains to national chain and then online and finally used bookstores. And now the circle may be completing.

But I am at least fortunate in that I collect books. We are but a hair's breath away from losing almost all art and culture of the last 3000 years.

Extreme, you say? Think, my friend: we have spent the last 30 plus years putting everything into the digital realm. Books? For many, they now live only on small consoles or their computers which must have power. Movies? I have a few in physical form that I can see from where I write you, but for the most part these too are now all electronic or “streamed”. They need a player as well. Music? My previous comments holds true there as well: many have some CDs or maybe their predecessors, but for most their music is totally found on the InterWeb.

But the last 30 years is troubling in another way too: we have been making our culture completely electronically and on-line. We have been making it to be interacted with and viewed online. What happens when there is not more online?

I write “we” - in point of fact, I have made nothing on-line for entertainment. And rather happily, I can entertain myself (as I know you can as well). So for those such as ourselves, the inability to access anything simply means one less thing to take away from the time we have to do so many other things.

But for millions – billions, if you count the rest of the world – their ability to entertain themselves, to learn, to express themselves is tied up in a media which may very well disappear in the blink of an eye. What will there be of their entertainment and creative impulses then? How will they amuse themselves then? Suddenly discover modes and methods of entertainment effectively banished from their worlds for years, or maybe forever?

It saddens me, Lucilius, that with our great technological achievements and all we have done, that the works of the civilizations of the Greeks and Romans, Egyptians and Aztecs, will outstrip us yet.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Flying and Driving

I have to admit to you that the thought of flying to go anywhere becomes less and less attractive.

For international travel (and thus, my trips to Japan as long as I can manage them), there is no substitute, of course.  But for domestic travel (which I care to do less and less anyway), I have to admit that I am almost of the opinion that I would rather drive.

Sure, some of it is the airport experience:  anymore they are crowded, expensive, and awkward to get into.  If you are lucky, you can have someone drop you off; if you are less lucky, you are left to your own devices to park far away, thus ensuring you will add another 30 minutes to your time to get home.

To be fair, driving takes more time.  It is, on the whole, probably more expensive (as one has to stay overnight along the way).  More time, more money - something many of us do not have a great deal of.

But going along with the idea of "Being Where You Are", driving seems to me to be the more complete experience.

When I have driven through a region, I have seen it - perhaps even only once, but I have a picture in my head.  I can still see the places that we drove when I was growing up when we went on vacation; I can see clearly the places I drove to in Iceland.

For airplanes, we see very little.  We hop from airport to airport and then (mostly) from metropolis to metropolis, with no sense at all of any of the land in between except for what we saw from the plane window.  Like our entertainment, like our food, like almost everything now, we have come associate anything that does not immediate meet the need or get us to the point as something which is wasteful in nature.

To some extent (until they ban it), I am sure that I will always have to take planes to get places.  But I sure as heck am going to try out driving more where I can.  It may not be faster, but it will sure be more enjoyable.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

39 Again

So The Ravishing Mrs. TB turned 39 this weekend (for the 12th time).

She is off with Na Clann on another adventure (alas, after my last absence from work I am very reluctant to take some more time off so soon) - it is what she wanted as part of her birthday and (frankly) missing hordes of people in the hot Florida sun is something that I can happily do without.

It strikes me as odd, if I think about it.  We passed our 26th wedding anniversary this year.  I have known her for 27 years.  At this point, that is longer than all but my family and a handful of friends.  i do not suppose you ever know how certain relationships will work out, unless you try them. 

We are reaching that point in our marriage where our responsibilities are slightly dropping off:  the oldest will be off soon for her 3rd year college, the middle for her 1st, and the youngest to start high school.  It is not quite the empty nest syndrome, but it certainly a predecessor to it for both of us. In a (mere) four years, we will pretty much be on our own.

I am not sure how ready we are for that.

But for now, we do not have to be.  All we have to do is celebrate 39 (again).

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Movie Tangerines

If you have Netflix, I might recommend a movie to you:

It is called Tangerines, a 2013 Estonian-Georgian film.  Set in 1992-1993 Abkhazia War, it focuses on a carpenter, Ivo, and his farmer friend, Margus, Estonians who have stayed behind after most of their friends and family have fled back to Estonia.  Margus has stayed in hopes of harvesting his tangerine crop, and Ivo is building the crates to hold them.

During the movie, two more characters are introduced:  Ahmed, a Chechen mercenary who is wounded and helped by Ivo, and Nika, a Georgian who is wounded in the same incident and rescued by Ivo.  Both men are cared for in separate rooms in the same home and both hold a passionate hatred for each other.

The movie becomes an interaction between the crops (Will they get harvested? Will Margus and Ivo be able to leave) and the hostility of Ahmed and Nika.

I cannot tell more without revealing the movie; that said, I would strongly recommend you see it if you have the chance.  It asks questions about culture and land and war and reconciliation, but to my mind asks the most poignant and real of all:  what do you do as an "outsider" that has lived somewhere for multiple generations to the point that this place feels like home and then war breaks out - how does one abandon a life one has known literally their whole life?

Sunday, July 14, 2019


May the three springs praise you,
Two higher than the wind and one above the earth,
May darkness and life praise you,
May the cedar and sweet fruit-trees praise you...

May the birds and the bees praise you,
May the stubble and grass praise you,
Aaron and Moses praised you,
May male and female praise you,
May the seven days and stars praise you,
May the lower and upper air praise you,
May the books and letters praise you.

- 10th-11th Century Middle Welsh Prayer, Celtic Devotions, Calvin Miller

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Collapse XXIII: High Dudgeon Summer

10 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

We are in the high dudgeon days of summer now: heat punctuated by thunderstorms. My garden is grateful for the rain of course, but it does make it a bit dicey to go out and do anything during a given day.

Not that I let this halt my activities, of course. I have re-organized everything to the point that I have nothing to re-organize. I have pulled everything off of its shelf and dusted it. When I have had a clear afternoon, I have examined the bee hives and thoroughly weeded the garden.

The items that I ordered on the InterWeb – at least some of the first batch – have started to arrive. They, too, are being carefully filed away. I think perhaps two more week cycles of mail and there will be nothing else coming.

And still, I have time left over.

I have spent more of it lately perusing the InterWeb – not so much for more things to order, as I have reached my current limit in the event that this is only a test drive for the real emergency and I have to continue to exist in the modern economy, as to review what people are saying out there in the great big world.

In short, people are uncertain and afraid.

The government is not helping this, of course. Their press releases are as vague and reassuring as you would expect any government's to be: they are “closely monitoring” the situation and urge people to remain calm. To the contrary, people are not: rumors of shortages and bank holidays are almost minute by minute occurrences in the chat rooms and mail lists of the InterWeb where the government does not seem to reach.

I do find it somewhat eerie that a great deal of what I can see of international news reflects the experience here: were I in France or Russia or Australia, I see much of the same fear and government response/non-response. People are afraid. They hear rumors of famine and peril and the inability to feed themselves and the governments of the world do little – if anything – to resolve that fear. As if they simply wish it to go away by ignoring it.

Not surprisingly, the “Survivalist/Economic Ruin” groups on line are oscillating between a “This is it!” mentality and patting themselves on the back for having seen this coming. I am not sure of whether or not “this” is it; what is saddening and (frankly) deeply disturbing is to see the number of people taking what I can only interpret as glee in the current mental anguish and potential actual anguish of their fellow citizens.

It is one thing to be prepared for any eventuality. It is another to take pleasure in the actual suffering of others. As Nieztche said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it in the process that one does not become a monster.”

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Changing My Workspace

I have changed up my major workspace.

For years, I have been trying to do everything in two locations.  One is my desk, located in my bedroom - before our move it was located in our master bedroom closet and was the office that I have never managed to have.  The other, at least for the last six years, has been the large overstuffed purple chair in the living room.

It makes sense, correct?  In one location (the chair) I did all my early morning work; in the other (my desk) I did my writing and other items.  But the problem has presented itself that I have not been making the progress in anything that I was hoping for. 

So, I changed where I am working.

The Ravishing Mrs. TB has a craft table in the living room which (at this point) is intermittently used, but has an amazing desk lamp.  So I have relocated there.

It means changes, of course.  My items, be they for reading or writing, are now stored out there.  Anything that I was doing at my desk, I have to "truck" (I use the word loosely) out in the living room to use.

But it seems to be working.  Why?

1)  Simply put, a change of scenery.  I am not used to being out there, so I am not immediately lapsing back into my old habits.

2)  No computer.  This is the biggest change - by leaving the computer behind and only having what I need, I am forcing myself to stay on task.  The results, even after a few days, have been remarkable.

3)  The change in location and lack of distractions has meant I am more able to focus on what I am doing.  For me, I really can have no distractions to the task that I am trying to accomplish - the less, the better.  Thus, I can focus fully on what I am doing because I have nothing else to focus on.

I will see where I sit in a month.  But so far, I am quite happy with the results.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

On Special Occasions

The older I get, the more this is true.

Our society does not work that way, however.  Special occasions are, well "special".  Totally disconnected from our day to day existence.  Once upon a time "Sunday best" used to be a phrase - partially, of course, because in an agricultural society "Sunday Best" does not translate to Monday through Saturday, but also partially because work was not a special occasion.

Interestingly, ancient warrior cultures, such as the Samurai and Native Americans, had it more right.

For the samurai, it was important to look your best at each and every moment, because you never really knew that you would have the next moment - and were you to pass away, it was considered a courtesy to you slayer to be as well dressed up as possible.

"A warrior preparing himself for battle presents his most splendid appearance.  That is, he gets himself ready to die.  The idea of full dress in preparation for a battle does not come from a belief that it will add to the fighting ability.  The preparation is for death, in case that should the result of the conflict.  Every Indian wants to look his best when he goes to meet the Great Spirit." - Wooden Leg, Cheyenne

In reality, there are no special occasions.  There is only life and death, and I have a pretty good sense that (from a purely physical view) there is no special occasion celebrated by a corpse.  Act and live accordingly

Monday, July 08, 2019

Find A Tribe?

This has been making the InterWeb Rounds.

On the one hand, I find a great deal of truth in it.  If you have not been out in any kind of social milieu in, say, the last ten years, you would be quite surprised to find how to true this is.  At least in my own experience, most place where people gather - be they career, religious, professional, or even just enjoyable - are exactly like this.   People keep to "safe", non-controversial topics (although this are dwindling more and more as we speak) or topics with very limited boundaries:  what you did this weekend, how is your family doing, what about the weather.  In this sense the InterWeb has been a great tool in helping folks to find their "tribe", be it intellectual, social, or even activity based.

On the other hand, this is an alarming trend.

To read the conquest of any territory, especially in the ancient world, is to read the story of how a united people were victorious against "tribes", whether you call them families or clans or petty kingdoms.  The great empires of old - Persia, Rome, Charlemagne, even Great Britain - succeeded because they fought as one while the tribes fought individually - and as individual units, they had their own interests which could be managed, purchased, or exploited.  Sometimes a major leader might bring together several tribes, whether successfully (Arminus at the Teutoberger Wald in 9 A.D, where German tribes destroyed a Roman task force and stopped Roman expansion north of the Rhine) or unsuccessfully (the Jacobite Rebellion, 1688-1746, where the entire Scottish structure was completely undone) - but these ultimately represented only temporary victories at best or, even worse, the leader becoming the Empire which he had overthrown (Alexander the Great, for example).

If I were an enemy, this is precisely what I would want.  Spread dissension, spread discord, spread a weakening of shared ties instead of a strengthening of them, and suddenly your opponent is either ripe for the taking or will dissolve into a series of internal conflicts - maybe civil war if you are lucky - leaving you as the victor having expended no effort at all.

Perhaps I am overthinking this issue a bit, because I definitely find myself in the position of having to be small, be quiet, and be gray.  But surely it is not without noting that no social construct can ultimately survive its own atomization?

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The Crown Of The King

The crown of the King is around thy head,
The diadem of the Son is around thy brow,
The might of the Spirit is in thy breast,
Thou shalt go forth and come homeward safe.

- Carmina Gadelica from Calvin Miller's Celtic Devotions

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Happy Independence Day 2019!

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the  conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776