Monday, November 30, 2020


In going through the equivalent of an "series binge" of Andre Norton, I realized how large a part ruins play in so many fantasy and science fiction stories.

Ruins permeate so much of the science fiction and fantasy landscape:  old buildings which dot landscapes and planets, oftentimes without a hint as to why they were put in place.  In Andre Norton they appear as ruins of the Old Ones in Witch World or the Forerunners in her science fiction.    In Tolkien they are the remains of the Men of Númenor at Amon Sul and The Argonath and Amon Hen or the Mines of Moria of Durin's folk.  In Edgar Rice Burroughs they are the dead cities of the Orovars, built on the shorelines of receding oceans.  In Robert E. Howard they are the nameless brooding buildings (filled with rumors treasury) that abound in Hyperborea.  In H. Beam Piper, they appear not so much as ruins as in the remnants of a civilization (The Federation).  And in post-apocalypse novels, they are the remains of the modern world as we know it (depending, of course, of whenever the collapse actually occurred).

Ruins provide several functionalities in these stories.  They can be the point of the quest, or serve as a sort of brooding background to the characters as they move through the landscape.  They are a thing of mystery and speculation:  usually little is known about the builders or their purposes or, if both are known, it is acknowledged by the characters that such things cannot be built again by those in their day.  They serve as sentinels of a past age, now lost, at best forming a location of perilous comfort, at worst a place of danger.

Our own ancestors were not immune to these things; in Old English there was actually a word for this, dústscéawung, literally "contemplation of the dust".  We have at least one work in the Old English corpus of work called "The Ruin", in which the author contemplates the remains of the Roman works that existed in his time:

Wrætlic is Þes wealstān;       wyrde gebræcon
burgstede burston;                 brosnað enta geworc.
Hrōfas sind gehrorene,          hrēorge torras
hrīmgeat berofen                   hrīm on līme
scearde scūrbeorge                scorene, gedrorene,
ældo underetone.

"Wonderous is the masonry;                    the fates broke and 
smashed the city;                                     decayed the work of giants.
Roofs are fallen,                                      fallen towers,
the frosty gate destroyed,                         frost on the stone binding,
chipped the protection from storms,        rent and collapsed,
undermined by age."

In all of this - fiction and fact - lingers the questions:  Who were these folk?  Why did they build what they built?  And happened to them?

Sadly, this is yet another item that we lack in our modern society.

Oh, we have ruins:  Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Mayan, Polynesian, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan.  And we have excavated them and catalogued them.  We know a great deal about those who built them.  Also, they are (for the most part) safely corralled in parks and preserves and sites.  They do not brood over us as guardians or sentinels, but have become almost like theme parks:  places we go to take pictures and walk about and perhaps ponder - but only for a bit - the makers of them.

We have lost the sense of the numinous, that sense of something being outside of our space and time but infringing into it.  For that is what ruins in all of these worlds represent:  the past pressing into the future in a way that cannot be catalogued or fully explained.  We have explained it, as we explain everything else, down to the molecular level.  The mystery is gone; we only have the buildings at artifacts as items to be toured and looked at, not pondered and viewed with a healthy mix of questioning and awe.

There is one other thing that ruins serve as in all of the stories I have mentioned:  they represent the pinnacle of some civilization, their highest point of art and architecture and science.  At some point after that, destruction always occurs, leaving only the remains for the future to wander through in wonder and fear and awe.

I do not wonder if the fact we no longer have such "ruins" is that we believe ourselves to be beyond the need for such things.

Pride, it is said, always goes before the fall.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Civilization And Servitude

 Servitude is not something we really discuss, at least here in the West.  The idea of being a servant is confined largely at this point to those British period dramas portraying the 19th and early 20th Century.  We are a free, independent, civilized world:  service is something that we have relegated to volunteerism (public service).

The reality is that we have become, in effect, servants to civilization and its technologies.

We pretend it is not so, of course. We have the ability to shop as we wish, work as we wish, enjoy as we wish (or at least, we used to).  We can (literally) enjoy the world from our homes whether by videos or foods or handmade items.  

But all of this comes at a cost, of course.  

The most visible part of this is taxes, of course:  taxes on income, taxes on fuel, taxes on purchases, taxes on property, taxes on death, taxes on utilities, taxes on travel.  While in practice we are less taxed than the peasant of the Western Middle Ages or the farmer of Tokugawa Japan, in principle this is not so.  What has changed is what we pay on.

The taxes, of course, are paid in support of our civilization, but I think it is a fair statement to make that no entity we pay our taxes to actually advances civilization.  That has been left to the private sector in terms of innovations in technology, in health care, in industry, in entertainment, in agriculture.  even to some extent in social relations.  The tax money itself disappears into a large hole, never to be seen directly or even indirectly by most of the people paying into the system.

Which raises the rather ridiculous image, of course, of one working merely to pay one's rent, food, utilities, and taxes.  It becomes a vicious cycle:  we live to work to live.

But the private sector has, step by step, also been contributing to our servitude via the introduction of more and more technology.

Technology, as it advances, encourages dependence.  A man can, with skill and training, learn to make a flint arrowhead or how to tame a horse.  It takes a trained expert to build a firearm or design/construct/repair an automobile.  As we continue to bring more and more technology into our lives, we become more and more dependent on others to maintain that technology and we end up working not only to pay for rent, food, utilities, and taxes, but for the technology that we have come to depend on to make our lives go easier or better or faster or even just survivable.

More insidious yet - and becoming more and more inescapable - is the use of 2FA, or two factor authentication, which requires that one receive a second password or pin - typically on the smartphone - in order to access more and more websites (even as we are discouraged more and more from doing actual business with actual people) that are effectively a necessity.  It is rapidly becoming the case that as we shift more and more to online, we must almost constantly bear with us a small tracking device in order to access our own information.  Which, by the way, we have the privilege of paying for.

The argument is that the benefits of civilization and its technology outweigh the tradeoffs we are required to make - and one can, I suppose, make a certain argument for such a thing.  I enjoy having water which is not likely to kill me, air that does not choke me when I breathe it, some level of safety from marauders and criminals, or just the ability to order items for Iaijutsu directly from Japan instead of having some sort of imitation items from somewhere else.  And all of these together are not to be despised.

But it is equally foolish and disingenuous to somehow pretend that all of this is without a cost to our lives and minds beyond just the money we pay to maintain such things.  We - all of us to a greater or lesser extent - are servants of a system which offers us degrees of pleasure and convenience but at a cost of managing our own lives and our privacy.  To pretend that this chains do not exist, even if they lay very lightly on our conscious mind, is to somehow willingly blind ourselves to the reality of our servitude.

At some point we are all told to stop believing in fairy tales - except, of course, the largest one of all that we live in every day.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving Day 2020


George Washington's 1789

Thanksgiving Proclamation

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

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


Wednesday, November 25, 2020


 As modern human beings, we have always taken Civilization for granted.

Civilization, as the story goes, is the long crawl up from the hunter gatherers that occurred over thousands of years.  We moved from the irregularity of the food supply of the chase to the regularity (relatively speaking) of the harvest or the herd.  As we farmed and herded, we gathered together in larger and larger groups and learned to exchange the goods we did not have with others.  As we associated, towns and then cities (small ones, to be fair) appeared.   We learned to capture our ideas in letters, to travel farther afield, to make things - pottery or baskets, but eventually wood and metal objects.  Over time our tools and our outputs changed - from the abacus to the computer and the bronze dagger to the M1 - but behind all of this is the idea that we continued overall to move forward, not back.  

Mind you, Civilization comes with a lot of baggage as well.  Groups of people have to manage themselves - or, as it turns out, be managed by others.  And thus the story of Civilization is also largely the story of governments and how they ruled over others.  Be clear that no one race, creed, or society has a leg up on any of the others in this.  Scratch the surface of any Civilization and you will find a rather sordid history.  

The payoff for all of this, we are told, is Civilization.  Yes, people have treated each other horribly but look at what we have been able to accomplish.

But, at what point do we begin to reach the point of Uncivilization?

What is Uncivilization?  I do not know that I have fully developed the concept, but I would posit it is the process where a civilization loses itself.

It might not lose other things, of course.  It can still continue to develop technology, the arts, have a thriving business culture.  But the point of civilization - the betterment of the individual and the freedom of them to exist, largely or (desirably) completely free of government interference, to have the best possible life for themselves, is destroyed.

The individual, in these cases, is becomes nothing more than a cog in a giant machine that is the government and national economy.  The individual exists purely to fill a role in society that betters the power structure, not directly themselves.  The power structure benefits directly; the individual by default.

Note I use the phrase "power structure".  The power structure can be the government of course, but it is not always so.

We look back on history and see the horrors of slavery of the Roman Empire (or the American South, for that matter, or the reality of slavery that exists today in parts of the world) or the effective indentured feudal servitude of the Han Empire or Feudal Japan or Feudal Europe or the conquering arm and annual demand of victims of the Aztec Empire and correctly are repulsed.  We then see and hear voices demanding that our own governments take more and more control of every detail of our existence and are drowned out in the cheering.

The difficulty, of course, is that humans were never meant to be cogs in a machine.  They can function that way of course, but not forever.  They will find ways to work outside the system (thus denying the larger group of the benefits of their ingenuity, by the way), put in the minimum amount of effort, or actively seek to tear the system down.  Ultimately in all of these scenarios, "civilization" does not benefit but finds itself torn apart.

The shocking thing - at least shocking thing to me - is that people do this to themselves, perhaps from the best intentions of getting out of a failed older system - civilization - but not realizing that they have opened themselves up to the sort of thing that will view them not as individuals, but as tools and resources to be managed and expended.

It would be a far-seeing and wise civilization that would see such a thing and avoid it - but as wisdom is a chancy thing at best in this world, it seems more a matter of luck.

And luck, as any gambler will tell you, is a fickle thing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Calms Before The Storms

It is funny how looking back sometimes gives you insight into the calms before the storm that you never anticipated.

I think back to a weekend in 2009 where The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I took a weekend trip to Arizona to a conference for a then-company she was working for.   It was the following week that I came home only to find out that Hammerfall, my layoff, was happening - and that our entire life would be upended.

Or I think back more recently to this year, when I was in Japan completely absorbed in training, thinking not a thing in the world about coming back and anything changing - only to get back to realize that I had  A Sort Of Hammerfall, and that my entire career frame of reference would be changing.

I am very familiar with the "last time" a thing is going to happen.  The last week of college, the last week before being married, the last day when the last day of the two week notice is reached, the last day before the first (or second or third) child arrives - all of these are times where something changes, and changes irrevocably.  But these are always changes that are mentally known, planned for, managed.  Yes, there is the same sense of before and after, but it it does not come as a surprise when the event occurs.  One assumes, for example, that life is changing when one's first child arrives (by how much, you can never know until you do it).

But these other things - the layoffs, the unexpected separations and deaths, the sickness no-one saw coming but upends one's life - these are the things that part of me wonders if we do not realize the hidden joys or comforts we may have had prior to these events because we had come to accept them as normal and expected.

If they layoff in 2009 would not have happened - would I still remember it so clearly or that I had a good time, or would it simply become buried beneath the weight of other events that happened since then?  And Japan - this year has become all the more precious because our training was canceled for the upcoming year.  In some ways, could I have withstood A Sort of Hammerfall had I not had the experience of demonstrating at a 150 year old temple?

I write this at the beginning of what (at least in the U.S.) is considered the kick-off of the holiday season:  Thanksgiving, Christmas (and Advent as well if you keep it), and New Year's.  No-one can, I think foretell the future other than to say that in some definable and some indefinable ways, the Old World has passed away and we are in a transition to new one.  I do not - at least here - pretend to know or predict what that is.  Nor is that the point of this message.

Savor this time.  Find joy in the season however you may - with family or friends, or even within your own heart.  Sink into whatever joys the season may offer, even if in the back of your mind they may seem ephemeral.  Breath deeply, hear the unheard, lock the scents of the season into your memory.

We do not know what the future will hold.  But I deeply believe we will need that sense of strengthening before future appears.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Five Days Of Pre-Christmas Shopping

 This week - at least in the last 20 years or so - represents the kick off of the Christmas Shopping Season.  It has acquired something of a life of its own. First we had Black Friday (The day when stores hoped to come into profitability for the year).  After that we got Cyber Monday (the InterWeb's retort to Black Friday).  Then we got Small Business Saturday (to assuage everyone's guilt about shopping at the chain stores).  And finally, Giving Tuesday (to assuage everyone's guilt about shopping at all).  Throw in the un-named Sunday (Sleeping Sunday?  To gather strength for the rest of the course?) and you have the Five Days of Pre-Christmas Shopping.

Of course, everything is anticipated to be completely different this year due to The Plague.  I have already seen that several large Box stores will not be open. I also anticipate that lots of other locations will have limited or no "Black Friday" events at all due to The Plague (Which, I am sure, almost everyone can agree on being a good thing no matter what your opinion of The Plague.  There are only so many videos one can watch of people fighting each other for large screen televisions before one questions the values we hold as a society).    

The InterWeb, of course, sniffs at all of this.   Virtual events mean none of the risks of crowds or government intervention ("Kids, you know only two of you can be within six feet of the screen shopping") and all the potential of a good retail season.

But even they are acting atypically this year.

I have now received notice from at least two of the online shopping sites I frequent that Cyber Monday is opening early this year.  And by early, I mean as of last week.  And the offers are pretty good.

On the one hand, I get their reasoning.  They are anticipating - with good cause - that shipping this year is going to be more difficult than ever and the earlier people purchase, the earlier the product can ship and the more likely it will get there.  That is a sane, sensible marketing approach.

But I also wonder if it is not a representation of the economic uncertainty of our times.

These are economically uncertain times.  And this has been not a great year overall for the retail community.  I do not wonder if part of this is also driven by the simple fact that businesses are hoping that they can get their part of Five Days of Pre-Christmas Shopping now, based on an anticipated decrease in the total spending power that consumers will have to spend.  A sort of "The early business gets the (fill in your country's currency here)" approach. Which could very well be true, of course.

Do I think the retail season will be bad for retailers?  I do not anticipate it being so particularly, if for no other reason than (at least here in the US) our citizens have (to a large extent) shown a complete and total inability to prepare for hard times.  So we will (once again) spend like there is no tomorrow.  

But I sincerely doubt it will be like years past.  And I anticipate seeing another wave of closures and bankruptcies come January, when the numbers are crunched and things do not add up.  Even a reasonable Christmas season will probably not offset the economic harm done this year.

I do not wonder - give it five years or so - like so many other things, The Five Days of Pre-Christmas Shopping will slip into the same category as business closed on Sundays or meeting people directly at the airport gates, a memory of older days that will come to be completely believed as untrue and mythical by later generations.

On the bright side, I suppose, we will be spared the lines of shoppers freezing themselves at 0400 in line to get a rather small free bag and $5 gift card.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Church Post-Plague

 I sometimes wonder - after all of The Plague is over - what church will really look like.

If you live somewhere which forbids (whether you agree with it or not) the assembly and/or the reopening of church as it was pre-March 2020, you have been living a life of either 1) not attending any kind of service at all; 2) attending service via some sort of electronic medium; or 3) attending a much reduced congregation spread out.

Our current church, as I think I have mentioned, went completely remote at first and then to a modified version (25% capacity, less services, spread out, health checks, nothing but the adult service itself, etc.).  I have been in no rush to get back and so we have been "attending" church via the InterWeb.

I want to be careful in my assessment:  for many over the years - those who could not get out or those who, for one reason or another, found themselves isolated from a church of their liking and/or belief - the electronic medium of radio, television or the InterWeb has been a viable solution for their Christian walk.  And to be even more fair, I have over the years grown a great deal from listening to Christian Teachers on the radio.   And so to say that moving to a remote Church is completely outside of the historical norm - at least for the last 100 years or so - is not correct.

That said, of course, I do not find that the InterWeb really works for me (although again to be fair, I have other issues with my current church as well which may incline me to such an opinion).

But (at least theoretically) at some point, church will restart.  But how will it be?

I have been scraping my mind in odd hours to think of a historical comparison, of some time where the Church ceased meeting for a period of time and then restarted.  It is not quite the same as the Underground Church (although I am pretty sure this is unofficially happening somewhere) and the major plagues of the Middle Ages (The Plague of Justinian, The Black Plague) did not result in the complete lack of meeting of the Church.   And I do not fully have one yet.

My suspicion - no matter what my lack of historical context - is that it will appear very different.

Practically speaking of course, I suspect things of my youth, like the post-service treasured coffee and cookies,  will be much rarer than they used to be.  Spacing out may become a regular practice, even if it is not to the extent that have now.  Not being a huge physical contact person myself, I will not be heartbroken the intense physical greetings that some other denominations have also disappear - but there will be people that are impacted by this.  Add in the question of how and where such things as children's ministries, teen ministries, adult ministries, retreats, etc. get put back together or impacted - it is a pretty big list.

If I were to theorize, I might suggest that we end up with three or four models:  one in which things roll on as before, one where things remain where they are now, one where churches begin to go below the radar and operate out of houses to avoid the perceived risk of too many unknown people (thinking the Amish model here), or one where we have the equivalent of "cathedral" worship:  large buildings, people spaced out, little interaction.

I have no real idea of course, and it is (at least for me) moderately fun to speculate.  But I do know this:  no matter which model or models exist, if the Church is not actively thinking of such things it is going to "return" only to find that people's expectations and behaviors have changed - and it did nothing to prepare.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Budget Waiting

I was sorting through the budget this week - or rather, sorting through the potential budget for next year.

I cannot remember - in almost 30 years, anyway - having less of a grasp than ever of what our personal financial situation will be next year.  Most always, I have known a) what I made in the current year; and b) what I anticipate making in the next year, even if it was just "there will be no change".

I know what I have made this year.  I have not a clue in the world what I will make next year.

Even in the year of Hammerfall (2009) when I was laid off, I thought I knew what I was going to make that year - it is just that the income completely disappeared on me.  But next year is a true mystery to me.

There are really only four options:

1)  My salary does not change (by far the least likely).

2)  My salary does change by dropping, but not significantly (possible).

3)  My salary does change by dropping, significantly (highly likely).

4)  My salary does change by my job discontinuing (again, I consider this an unlikely option).

So one role plays options two and three.

I keep a spreadsheet which has the potential income levels laid out as separate worksheets along with our standing expenses.  So I keep going back and gaming different outcomes:  if it were to drop 50%, what changes would we have to make? If it dropped 30%?  If it dropped 60%?  What does that look like?  Where do the changes have to occur?

To be fair, in almost no scenario I am looking at is there any concern that we are going to be destitute, although in the longer term I have been told by a former colleague in HR that the generosity here makes it very hard out there to find a comparable position (so even in the event it drops a lot, it may ironically make me more employable.  Such are the vagaries of salaries and business fate.).

But the not knowing anything at all is the part that bothersome.  I cannot plan (except really, worst case scenarios) based on information that I do not have.  And I really do not want to remind people that I am still around on the off chance that nothing changes (following the old rule that drawing attention to one's self is almost never a good thing).

So I wait, and plan, and plan again, and try to enjoy the last little bits of the fin de siecle of Thanksgiving and Christmas on an old work paradigm that is rapidly running out.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Collapse LVIII: Boxing Day

 26 December 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Boxing Day! Yes, I know, two missives in two days – but if there is anyone that will keep these minor holidays alive it will be us.

It just so happened that young Xerxes came by to check in this very afternoon. In a fit of holiday spirit I gifted him with a bit of coffee and a chocolate in a bag and sent him on his way. He had no idea why I was giving this to him, so of course I had to explain Boxing Day (which he had never heard of). I am not completely sure he believed that it was a real thing, but to say that he was grateful is an understatement. Such things seem luxuries when a few months ago – or an age ago, it was – they were common place.

I know you will find me a fool for doing such a thing – after all, we are in the dead of Winter after an economic and societal collapse with no indication of when – or if – it will end. And perhaps, in a real and meaningful way, you are right.

But if civilization is to restart, it will never be by decree or fiat (it never has been, of course: emperors and kings cannot decree it so in the past, no matter what their desires). It will be the connection of a thousand strands of self-interest and kindness that sometimes have little to do with the building of anything except the human spirit.

And fortunately for all of us, kindness is a gift that is never out of style.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Living In Two Places

 Back at Old Home after another week at The Ranch.

Living in two places at one time (more or less) is something that I have not really experienced for well over 30 years.  I forgot how rather time stretching it can be.

One always finds one's self in two time zones:  the time zone one is actually in, and the time zone that one is trying to live in.  In my current case it is not too difficult:  the time change is such that I can essentially go about my regular schedule and still adhere to what appears to be a regular living schedule.  It is just that I go to bed rather early and wake up rather early as well.

In my case, I keep my work computer set to New Home time, as that is the schedule that runs all my meetings and due items.  It can be a bit disorienting, looking at one clock as seeing one time and then stepping out a door and looking at a clock that has a different time. My body certainly does not notice, and I find myself hungry pretty much at all times of the day.

The best part, though, is the end of the work day.  

Because of the difference in timing, I find myself  with effectively two extra hours at the end of the work day which are "left over" from the time difference.  Being that I am not at New Home, many of my distractions are not there.  I have this mysterious and almost forgotten creature - forgotten perhaps since childhood, anyway, of "free time".  It is as if I am running a counterfeit operation, printing time at my own discretion for my own use.

I have not yet fully been able to accommodate its use - something that happens only once a month is still a little new for me and as a creature of a schedule, it is hard to make an off-week schedule.  But it is something that I have become conscious of - a benefit, although an unexpected one, of living in two places at the same time.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Book Review: 5 Acres & A Dream: The Sequel

 That I recall, I first became acquainted with Leigh Tate and her blog 5 Acres & A Dream on 27 July 2018 through a link with the title "Six Months Later:  How Dan's Hand is Doing" - because with a lead like that, who would not want to look?  Since that time, I have become an avid follower of Leigh and her husband Dan (who in his ability to craft things, I am convinced, is a cross between Prometheus and Bob The Builder) who have been practicing sustainability and self reliance somewhere deep within the Appalachian mountains (which really does sound so much mysterious and cool than an actual state name).

Leigh is a prolific blogger and freely shares their experiences (good and bad) as well as helpful tips (for example, I never knew what a rose hip was until this week) as they continue on their journey for living the life they desire on Five Acres.  So when Leigh announced she was writing a sequel to the original book 5 Acres & A Dream, I was all in.

The book, you will note,  is a sequel to the original.  This alone makes it unusual - most agricultural books (and I have more than a few) are usually one book only, telling you how do something, not necessarily how it went for them.  A few - Gene Logsdon or Joel Salatin - are happy to share and some - like Masanobu Fukuoka - share in a philosophical way that makes me think I might understand how they did, but it is rare.  In this case, we get to look seven years later into their journey and see how things are going.

The book starts with a review of the original concept ("The Dream") and how they reassessed their goals, priorities, and master plan.  She then reviews different areas of self sufficiency:  food for themselves and animals, energy, water, resources.  She covers the realistic factors of disappointments and distractions, and then rounds out with how she sees things moving forward.  It ends with recipes (and who does not love recipes) and helpful appendices, including a book list (I always consider it a good thing when authors I respect and my bookshelf have the same volumes).

To be clear, this is not necessarily meant as an instruction manual.  In a few places there is a more extensive review of the projects (Glen, if you were to read this book I would welcome your review of a small solar set up to support a refrigerator and freezer.  I think it is solar power done appropriately) but it is more often a review of how things worked, what did not, and what they would or did improve on over time.  In that sense it is more of a review of the overall plan and how (like any good plan) people adapt.

It is also a book with great and thought provoking quotes (from Leigh's other writing, how could it be any other way?).  I include a few of my favorites below:

"The more we interact with the natural world around us - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually - the more we understand ourselves to be a part of it.  Our life's work is to conduct ourselves in such a way that our five acres of earth can be its best self.  And that begs the question of how.  How do we function as part of our homestead ecosystem?"

"There is something profoundly satisfying in working towards a less complicated, less wasteful, and environmentally  responsible lifestyle."

"We don't fully appreciate that the lifestyle we're accustomed to is only possible because of an abundant and easily available energy supply.  To achieve success in a lifestyle transition, we have to learn how to change."

"Discouraging things are a part of life.  While we may not control our circumstances, we can control our attitude towards them.  I can choose to be grumpy or I can choose to be grateful.  It all depends on what I think about; on where I put my mental focus.  I'm not sure who said "just do the next thing,", but it's excellent advice.  Step by step, day by day, season by season, we just do the best we can.  And when we look back, we see that we've come farther than we thought."

As I stated before, this book is one of the rare ones in that it reviews progress on a goal.  Leigh freely shares their maps of their overall plan and how that has changed.  She shares how they make decisions on which projects to do (this has even entered into my dim consciousness; I am making lists as well).  And she is remarkably honest about the fact that this change towards this dream of simplicity and sustainability was not just with their property, but with themselves as well.

So, yes, if you were wondering, I do recommend this book.  Do me a favor and get it from Amazon or one of the other places that are selling it new so Leigh gets the money.  

After all, we will need a sequel to the sequel!


Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Ranch: November 2020 Walkabout

Autumn has arrived with a vengeance at The Ranch.   Daytime temperatures are mid 50's F (13-18 C) and the nights are 24 to the mid-30's (-4 to 12 C).  It is dark by 1730 (Amazingly so.  Funny how it being dark makes it feel so much later).  So what better time for a walkabout?

The sunlight finally looks like Autumn:

Looking back towards the Lower Meadow.

The leaves are finally turning and falling:

A disturbed stone in the middle of the road and bear scat.  I have no idea what happened, but it seems like there is a story here:

The last blackberries of Autumn have withered:

The creek is running a little higher than last time.  Winter and rain is on the way:

It is so nice to see Autumn again.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Flowing Underground

I have to confess that I am feeling not a little beaten down this week.

To be fair, it has been a long week. The election.  The continuance of The Plague (yes, I am aware of the news of the potential vaccine.  No, it does not work as quickly as the media is telling you.  There are still plenty of questions).  The oncoming dread of the annual review and the outcome of it (none of which, I assume, will really work in my favor).

But added to all of this is rather troubling realization that the era of the individual is over.

Communalism is ruling the day.  We are to care about others - not in the abstract way that is sometimes used or in the specific way that we as individuals may define it but (as I have noted about before) in specific, pre-authority approved ways.  The government, the group, the collective is telling us what constitutes "responsibility" and "caring".  "We" are responsible for "Us" with no more connection or relationship than simple existence.

And more and more, the collective is telling all what to think, what to feel, how to be involved and hip and "perceived" as caring.  

To be honest, the whole thing is a little dispiriting.

It is not depression.  Depression I am familiar with, know its feeling and ways.  It is not anger - there is no burning sense of rage that is fueling anything.  There is just a great sense of the loss of any value of myself an individual with opinions and preferences, replaced with a sort of blank numbness that sighs and only sees an endless run of group mandated approvals or disapprovals.

It is, in a sense I suppose, the final "Going Galt" of the soul, the final removal of anything that will reveal success or interest or support in a system which seems to have become on the one hand highly embracing of the individual, but only in the approved formats and forms.   

It pushes me more and more to find my expression and my life here amongst my writing friends, in the quiet of my own home and mind, among the very few whom are kindred souls and in the flesh, and hopefully in some place that is not an Urban Jungle. 

Maybe I could have made a difference in the larger system.  It is unknown now and will never again be a question.  The power and torrent of myself and my individuality and preferences and tastes is pouring underground like a river which, having broken through the crust at some point, creates caves of wonders and ecosystems of magic under the surface.

Minus the water, of course, the surface will eventually bake and dry away.  But the surface dwellers never seem to notice that until too late.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Quadrennial Hunger Games: Losers

 (Warning:  This post discusses political theory.  If you do not care for such things, might I suggest this lovely photo essay about our cat A?  We will return to our regularly scheduled chaos tomorrow).

I assume as you are reading this (and certainly as I am writing this) that no clear winner has been determined the Quadrennial Hunger Games we call the Great American Presidential Election.  The General Services Administration quite rightly stated that until the election was certified, there is no winner (in my one fit of pique:  Media does not declare winners.  The system established in The Constitution does).  

But not having a winner does not mean there are many losers.  There are plenty of those to go around:

1)  The US Voting System:  If this election has shown anything which I think that all sides can agree on, it is that that US Election system is only slightly above that voting for a 5th grade class president.  Voting should be a serious business, and the way we go about it is not:  drive through, walk-up, parachuting in, carrier pigeon, unsigned, scrawled, lost in the mail, found in a trunk.  The rest of the world must seriously be looking at us and shaking their heads.  As they should be.

It makes a certain sense:  both major parties benefit at different times from such a system and so they do nothing to fix it.  If a politician truly wanted to make themselves the head of a movement, voting reform would be an easy one to do.

2)  The Reds:  It is rare to have members of a party vote against an incumbent and the Reds have done little if anything to curb that.  That is the current office holder's benefit and curse: to paraphrase Yoda, "Like or Hate, there is no Maybe".  I know individuals that voted for in the last Quadrennial Hunger Games that did not vote that way this time; it may prove to be the undoing.

That said, the current office holder is not going away in the event of a loss.  To think any other way is to ignore that fierce loyalty engendered and demonstrated over the last month.  Whoever the next candidate is for the next Quadrennial Hunger Games will have to figure out a way to capture that loyalty - or at least no offending it.

3)  The Blues:  The Blues, should they win, will be trapped by the fact that their coalition consists of two groups: moderates and the "Burn It All Down".  They cannot cater too much to the "Burn It All Down" lest they destroy their moderate base; they cannot cater too much to the moderates lest the "Burn It All Down" decide (literally) to burn it all down.  The spectacle of watching they support positions which they mocked as recently as six months ago and the unmitigated scorn and hate they will receive is will be amusing as it is tragic.

4)  The Media:  As with item 1, it should be relatively apparent that the medias has lost any pretense of being neutral.  They now view themselves as "King Makers" - determiners of policy instead of reporters of it.  "A Free Press" as enshrined in the 1st Amendment should not be confused with a "Free to Determine the Fate of Countries" item.

If the Reds win, it will be business as usual.  If the Blues win, the media will be in the awkward position of having to maintain a veneer of neutrality.  As an observer, I sincerely doubt they are up to the task.  More likely, the Blues will have to offer periodic sacrifices of lower level apparatchiks to demonstrate they do not play favorites.

The other issue is that this is pressing forward the rise of the alternative InterWeb Press.  They can pretend they still hold the only keys to legitimate reporting, but that will ultimately be determined by the consumers, not the gatekeepers.

5)  Social Media:  As you know, I continue to maintain a presence on The Book of Face, mostly to occasionally post pictures for my parents and track my group activities.  After years of hearing people say they are doing it, I am shocked at the amount of people I see bailing on The Book of Face for alternative social media venues. I cannot vouch for any of these (current favorites seem to be Parler and MeWe), but that fact that people are finally doing it is amazing (and, might I say, a bit delicious in the fact that they are posting about leaving The Book of Face on The Book of Face).

This is a problem for The Book of Face, and Tweetter, and other associated social media platforms.  If people leave, you eventually lose revenues.  And, you run the risk of being labeled a site that only caters to one element of the population.  When people stop connecting because they no longer want to connect, your purpose as a social media - a platform for people to connect - becomes a bit unsustainable.  

Which leads us to:

6)  The American People:  If this year's Quadrennial Hunger Games has demonstrated anything, it is that the American People are farther apart than ever and that cries of unity are pretty much going to fall on deaf ears.  As the Blues made no effort since the 2016 Quadrennial Hunger Games to "just get along", the Reds are under no compulsion to do so (nor, frankly, should they.  What is good for the goose is good for the gander).   And no matter who comes out of top, it going to leave a slightly more fractured mess to go forward than before.

There will ultimately only be one winner.  But sadly, there are plenty of losers.

(Alright, I am taking a chance.  Principles only, not politics please.  Do not disappoint me.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

In Flanders Fields (Armistice Day 2020)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Colonel John McCrae 03 May 1915

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

An Update On A

 It occurs to me that I have not really had an update on A since I originally posted about him on August 7th.

A, as you may remember, was a stray that Nighean Dhonn found while she was out walking Poppy The Mighty one evening.  We took him in.  Since then, fortunately (and with several trips to Veterinarian), he has been thriving.

Since then he has been napping:

Making friends:

And exploring the world:

He is still working on his "We should sleep when everyone else sleeps" and "Everyone is not a toy", but we are certainly glad that he is here.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Some Thoughts On The Continuing New Normal

 Last week, for the first time since March, we had a gathering (socially distanced and masked, of course) of our men's group.  It was a pleasant evening on the back porch (they usually are here in November), and as we sat and talked, we of course brushed up against the concept of "The New Normal".

Sitting there chatting on the back porch, running the past week through my mind, I realized that my view of life going forward has changed. Pretty drastically.

At work and based on where we are, I suspect that the minimal staff onsite continues now through June and possibly through the end of 2021.  Given the fact we are just entering the Winter season now, I cannot see anywhere that plunging in for what would typically be the height of the cold and flu season makes any sort of sense.  I also suspect that mask wearing (or other versions of it) may be with us forever; the legal issues of infection from commercial locations (or even workplaces) have yet to be broached.  No company is legally going to want to be responsible for an employee that dies because the encouraged people to come in to the office too soon.

What this means, as I thought about it, was that at least for me, things are going to be maintaining pretty radically from what they were a mere 9 months ago.

Going out anywhere, at least for me, gives something of a level of discomfort now.  I was surprised how uncomfortable I felt just in the presence of two individuals whom I had known but not seen in some months.  The joy of interpersonal conversation for me, at least, is largely gone.  One is always watching, out of the corner of one's eye, if everyone is wearing one's mask appropriately and precisely how close (or far) they are.  And where they have been recently, and who they have been associate with, and were they wearing their masks and distancing.

That flows across lots of things, of course.  Any major social event where there are people, including both entertainment and social events (like church).  Any sort of shopping or commercial expedition which is not a specific need and requirement.  Anything where there is a going to be a group of people.

Even now, my expeditions are largely to specifically known places:  Iai training.  The gym.  The grocery store.  The book store (although these continue to fall as well as stock has decreased).  The Rabbit Shelter.  But this is really about it.

Travel is another thing that I am looking askance on long term.  Yes, I am continuing to travel back and forth to my parents as long as I am able, but that is part of a longer term plan.  Travel for personal pleasure - at least flying - is probably also on a long term hold.  I would really have to want to go somewhere to contemplate going through an airport and flying (yes, I know there is evidence suggesting that airplane filtration systems are effective,  but as the airports become more full the risks go up.  And travelers are, on the whole, not terribly smart creatures).

This really means two things from a practical point of view.  The first is that I am will be spending a great deal of time at two locations:  New Home and The Ranch.  It probably means less and less travel by plane and much more by automobile.  It also means that I am going be become less and less of an economic contributor, both in travel and in goods purchased, to the economy as a whole.

Yes, I understand that at some point this gets solved (Hopefully.  But that is unknown as well).  But even then, the reality is that communicable diseases are always there.  The flu and cold season so far, so much as we can tell, has largely disappeared.  It makes sense of course:   people who are masked up and avoiding contact with each other are less likely to transmit any number of diseases.  Add in other fun diseases like tuberculosis.  All of this does not go away just because The Plague is managed.

This is the unwitting thing that those that pushed so hard for these measures will likely have to try and unwind:  once people have started down this path, it will be very hard to get them off it.  For some (like me) they will not want to get off it. 

I do not often make predictions, but I suspect at some point in the not too distant future the refrain will be completely changed from begging people to mask up and stay away to getting back out and stay close.  

I suspect that, at least for me, it will fall on deaf ears.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Take The Long Way Home

One of the more interesting things about getting older is rediscovering the songs of your youth.

Most songs that I consider "my generation" fall squarely into the years of 1978 to 1985, which covers a reasonable (and surprising) range:  the end of disco and easy listening, the heyday of "Rock" (or as they call it now, "Classic Rock") and the beginning of Metal.  Add on a sprinkling of remainders from the 50's, 60's, and earlier 70's and you have as much music variety as you could ever desire.

Most of the songs, like most songs I suppose, do not age well.  They can bring back a pleasant memory about what was going on at some pivotal point in time or what you were doing when "X" was playing, but on the whole they are pretty droll stuff:  listening to the lyrics now, things like "Here I am/Rock you like a Hurricane" and "Come on, feel the noise" is just as silly a sentiment as read is to sing.
Occasionally though, in my musical reminiscing, I find a song that makes more sense now than ever.

Today's song, for your consideration is "Take The Long Way" home by Supertramp (circa 1979).

It may seem more poignant to me now than ever in that I am struggling with my own sense of washing out in a world that seems very different than I expected and in a life situation I find very different than what I expected (not necessarily bad, just different).  And, it has a rather well done harmonica part, which is seldom done correctly.

Link below, then lyrics.

So you think you're a Romeo
Playing a part in a picture show
Well take the long way home
Take the long way home

You're the joke of the neighborhood
Why should you care if you're feeling good?
Take the long way home
Take the long way home

There are times that you feel you're part of the scenery
All the greenery is comin' down boy
And then your wife seems to think you're part of the furniture
Oh, it's peculiar she used to be... so... nice

Lonely days turn to lonely nights
Take a trip to the city lights
Take the long way home
Take the long way home
You never see what you want to see
Forever playing to the gallery
You take the long way home
Take the long way home

When you're up on the stage it's so unbelievable
Oh, unforgettable how they adore... you
But then your wife seems to think you're losing your sanity
Oh, calamity is there no way out?
Oh, yeah

Does it feel that your life's become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be for you to grow boy
When you look through the years and see what you could have been
Oh, what you might have been if you'd have had more time

So when the day comes to settle down
Who's to blame if you're not around?
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home

(Lyrics:  Metrolyrics)

Thursday, November 05, 2020

The Collapse LVII: Christmas

25 December 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Christmas has long been a day of silence now for many years: no more rustling outside the door as children patiently wake for parents to wake up, no more frenzied action as wrapping paper and bows are torn apart, no more breakfasts or early dinners around laden tables. Just myself and the rabbits, taking in the snow.

I do not overly lament this change of course. This is simply part of the cycle that we all have to live through one way or the other, like it or not. People come, people go, but at some point we all find ourselves alone.

The question is, what do we do about it?

Some become bitter. Some cling to everything in the past, as if dying embers can light the future. Some simply surrender and give up.

And some learn to to drink coffee with their pets and watch the snow in silence.

I like to believe it was largely silent in the Stable the night as well.

Merry Christmas, Old Friend.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Trying To Find A New Rhythm

 We are now into month 8 of The Plague and I am still struggling to find a rhythm that works to meet the changed environment.

It is an odd thing how much we become creatures of habit:   for one or two months after we received the initial work from home order, I still found myself rising at the usual time and scuttling around to get everything done by 0700...for what?  To fight a commute that was not happening so I could get work early and work on tasks that were transferring out from under me anyway?

I slowly backed off of that practice - slept in a little later, started work a little later - but that still did not really address the issue.

I am, I have discovered over the years, a creature that does best with a schedule that really does not vary much.  A schedule with things that I do on a regular basis gives me a framework to hang activities on in such a way that I do not get down on myself when I do not do them.  

So, for example, my morning schedule looks something like this:  up at the same time every morning, pray, calisthenics, read my Bible passage for the day, journal, study Old English, blog (as I am doing now), catch up on the overnight/morning regular online reads, eat breakfast, shower, and then get on with my day. 

But even this is not quite inclusive of what I feel that I should be doing - after all, there is still some level of walking that needs to be done and ideally some kind of martial arts practice. Alas, my perfecting of the routine is not yet complete.

Yet even in the back of my mind as I try to find time for everything (and everything in its time), I am dogged by the thought that all of this is in some way "temporary", that sooner or later the clock will turn and we will find ourselves back into the "grind" of office living circa 2019.

But will I?

The reality is, even though we may at some point return to the office (which, to be honest, seems more and more unlikely to me now until mid-2021 at best, or maybe never) the fact is that some of the facts that I am addressing are not changing:  my job role is not coming back.  The only person driving me to be at work so much earlier and work so much longer is, in fact, me.  Yes, having a commute will add on some time - but not an hour or an hour and a half.

The reality is that while some of the rhythm I had acquired over 20 years of work was driven by circumstances, a great deal of it was driven by myself, by expectations that really no-one put on me but myself.

I am not there 100%.  And I am sure there will yet be changes.  But I am fairly certain the days of showing up 1.5 hours before actual office hours are largely gone.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Book Review: The Wanderer's Hávamál

The Hávamál ("Words of the High One") is a circa 900 A.D. text from the Viking era that survives in a single document, the Icelandic Codex Regius written down circa 1270 A.D.  It presents itself as being the sayings of Oðinn (Odin).  Along with The Poetic Edda, it constitutes the bulk of what we know about the myths of the Vikings.

Dr. Jackson Crawford (Ph.D., Scandinavian Studies, currently at The University Of Colorado, Boulder) has dedicated his education and his teaching career to the study of Old Norse (He has a website here and a YouTube channel, both worth your time, if for no other reason than he has one of those deep voices that I could listen to forever and the backdrop for his videos are the Rocky Mountains) and part of his career involves translating different texts. Today's consideration:  The Wanderer's Hávamál

The book is divided into five sections:  A rather complete introduction including the history of the text, notes on the translation, a pronunciation guide, and further reading,  the text of the Hávamál itself (all 164 stanzas) followed by footnotes and some supporting materials from other sagas.  

The Hávamál (argues the translator) is as much a commentary on living life in the Viking Age as it is a a religious text.  It has suggestions on hospitality, drinking, measures of wealth, situational awareness, and life and death - all relevant in an age where life was a struggle and death came quickly.  

The stanzas themselves are organized in such a way that the Old Norse and translation are side by side.  An example:  

 Hávamál Stanza 36

Bú er betra
Þótt lítit sé -
halt er heima hverr,
Þótt tvær geitr eigi
ok taugreptan sal,
Þat er Þó betra en bøn.

It’s better to have a home,
even if it’s little -
everyone should call somewhere “home”.
Even if you own just two goats
beneath a faulty roof,
that’s still better than begging.

In the notes, Jackson explains how he arrived at certain meanings - and (the sign of a good translator) explains in some ways why he translated it differently in an earlier text but how he has come to change his mind.

An added bonus at the end is The Cowboy Hávamál, where Jackson translates the sayings into a form of modern cowboy English (he states that the Hávamál sayings reminded of advice his grandfather would give him).  For example, here is his "translation" of Stanza 36:

"It dudn't matter where you live,
as long as you have a roof over you.
Better to call some place home,
even if it ain't much to look at,
than to beg for ever'thing."

I admit, translations of old texts are not common reading material and not necessarily considered entertaining.  But this is a well researched, well explained, fun (if you can call spending your evenings stumbling through a badly pronounced language not spoken for 800 years "fun"), and entertaining book.  It certainly has encouraged me to do a little more digging (Dr. Jackson has two other translations and more coming).

If you are looking for an introduction to Medieval literature or Viking sagas, or even just wondering what a side by side translation would be like, this is likely a book you will enjoy.  And if you are at all an aficionado of Cowboy Poetry or Cowboy Wisdom, The Cowboy Hávamál is worth the price of admission.

My guess:  you will leave hungry for more.

Monday, November 02, 2020

The Dilemma Of 1876

 I have to admit to you that I am feeling more and more like a samurai in 1876.

The Hatorei edict of 1876, which forbid the wearing of swords by all non-governmental employees in public, was the last of a set of decrees over the years 1870-1876 that had slowly whittled away the status and income of samurai as samurai.  Western dress and industry was valued while the traditional old ways were not.  First dress, then hereditary military service, then income were all changed.

It is not as if the samurai were left without options, of course.  The Meiji government clearly encouraged them to throw themselves into the new order of things with abandon, which many did.  They were encouraged to find new roles in industry, forestry, agriculture, and education.  And many did - 23% of businessmen in the 1880's were from the former samurai class and 35% in the 1920's.

But others, of course did not make the change, whether from inability, unwillingness, or an attachment to the old ways and days that simply were not returning.  They fought - and perished - from the years 1874 to 1877, the most famous of these The Satsuma Rebellion (idealized in the Tom Cruise movie "The Last Samurai").

My sense is driven, I suppose, by the realization - ever growing- that the world has changed in the last nine months in profound ways and no matter what the outcome of the next few months, will never go back to the way it was. To somehow pretend that it will is engaging in the same sort of nostalgia that caused those samurai who could not adapt to look back as if they could restore the past when the world had clearly moved on.

I sit writing this on a quiet Sunday morning.  Everyone else has gone and it is only myself and the animals at home.  The animals are all asleep with mid morning naps.  The only sounds I hear are the occasional sound of a car driving by and the low hum the aquarium pump as it goes.  I am, in a sense, inside a small bubble while the outside world goes on with its wars of words and deeds and its progress.

If I could, I would stay here always, surrounded by sleeping animals who know nothing of mandating "progress" or ideologues but only of the gratefulness of home and food and books which contain knowledge and statements without trying to convert them into points of view or "the right way to think" or anything else but a clear and simple statement of the past.  

I am not allowed that option, of course:  the modern world knows nothing of allowing people to simply "be" anymore; we all must be engaged and in some cases weaponized in The Great Cause (whatever that cause happens to be). 

In writing of the samurai and their dilemma, I failed to mention a third group.

They were the martial artists (and craftsmen) who persevered between the two worlds, such as Yamaoka Tesshu, existing in a state in which they really neither succeeded in the new world nor fully held on to the old, living their lives in the limbo that the preservation of traditional skills becomes, always holding on to the past while questioning which parts of the future could and should be integrated.  They were a minority, as they will always be a minority in a world which is always straining towards more progress.  But somehow they managed to maintain their balance in a world which was straining towards mandating the adoption of new, even if they did not achieve worldly fame and success in doing so; the fact that traditional martial arts and crafts continue to exist demonstrate that their way was not in vain.  

Herein, perhaps, remains the path that is left to me: to be in world but not a part of its wars of words and deeds and policies, accepting by exception not default those things - be they items, objects, systems, or beliefs - are touted as "the way things are now".

A final note on the dilemma of the samurai:  their acceptance of the new order did not preclude the rise of a better order, as the conquest of Korea, the Russo-Japanese and Sino-Japanese Wars, or World War II demonstrates.  Unquestioning acceptance of progress and the new did not inherently lead to the better, only to the different.

The traditional martial arts and crafts survived.  Imperial Japan, based on the new Meiji Order, did not.