Tuesday, January 02, 2024

The Forty-Five 2024 Edition: A Primer

 Greetings and welcome to 2024!

As has become a practice, one of the first posts in the New Year (this one, obviously) is intended as a primer to this blog.  I think, or at least perceive, that some level of individuals drift in each year, so this is offered as guide for the people and places that inhabit this world - which is (for the most part) based on the real world, or at least my perception of it.

I am your host, Toirdhealbheach Beucail ("Toridhealbheach" is a version of my name in Old Irish Gaelic; "Beucail" means "booming or roaring", as in the sound of a cannon. If you ever met me in person, you would find I have only two volumes:  silent and "ON").  I have been manning this rampart of the InterWeb, writing about this and that for what will now be my 19th year and am up to over 4900 posts on a variety of topics.

A very brief history: I grew up in a small town, the same town my parents and my mother's parents had grown up in. I went away to college for two degrees that have nothing to do with what I ended up actually doing, then came back home and lived in and around that area (referred to here uncreatively as "Old Home") until 15 years ago, when due to a layoff we had to move (to the also uncreatively named) "New Home".    Due to an unexpected health issue with both of my parents (see here, Moving TB The Elder And Mom), I now spend about one third of the year at Old Home, and the other time working to get back there on a more permanent basis to The Ranch (see below).  As more recent events have occurred (Hammerfalls 2.0 and 3.0), I once again find myself looking for work.

I have a variety of interests.  I am a practitioner of Iaijutsu, a Japanese martial art which is (crudely but correctly) defined as the "quick draw" of sword techniques (my style has existed since the 16th century).  I make cheese and other dairy foods.  I train with weights.   I garden.  I write (perhaps somewhat obviously).  I hike, mostly in the Sierra Nevadas but have also been down into the Grand Canyon.   I study languages, both current as well as the dead ones.  I read voraciously - primarily history and theology, but also philosophy, agricultural books and "old style" (say pre-1985) science fiction and fantasy.  I do some travel, although I am more of a homebody.

Dramatis Personae:

        - The Ravishing Mrs. TB:  To whom I have been married for over 30 years now and who actually makes sure the trains run on time and things get done.

     - Nighean Gheal: Number one daughter, a college graduate with a degree in International Business now living in The Big, Big City.

    - Nighaen Bhan: Number Two daughter, also a college graduate with a degree in Communications and pursuing a Master's level program in Speech Disorders (a.k.a., Speech Therapist).

     - Nighean Dhonn: Number Three daughter, currently studying Anthropology and Archaeology.

     - The Director:  One of my two best friends from High School and still currently one of my best friends.  Lives in Old Home, one of the most intelligent people I know.  Currently working on his Ph.D.  On an unusual note, he is practicing Quaker.

    - Uisdean Ruadh: The other of my two best friends from High School and still currently one of my best friends.  Also lives in Old Home, currently living in The Cabin at The Ranch with his mother  A Mhathair na hUisdean Ruadh, who turned 96 in December.  Deeply Catholic, loves traditional Catholicism, planes, and history.  

  - The Berserker:  My weight training coach.  I have trained with him for 8+ years now.  I live in fear of his weekly training regimes, although they have been very successful.

The Shield Maiden:  A friend I met throw Highland Games many years ago.  She lives much farther away than she used to (Picture the border of Canada and then move down.  Slightly.).  We chat via the InterWeb every day.  She is a reservoir of wisdom and the much needed lectures I will get from no-one else.

-La ContessaMy very good and old friend (post high school, so not quite as long as The Director and Uisdean Ruadh, but almost as long).  We regularly have dinners once a month when I am in Old Home.

-The Outdoorsman:  My brother-in-law and hiking partner in crime.  What started as lark of an idea (hiking the Grand Canyon) has turned into 3-4 smaller training hikes and a single big hike a year.

The Cowboy/The Young Cowboy:  A father and son team, they have kept cattle at The Ranch for almost 20 years now.  They are regularly present there and help to keep an eye on the place when I am not present.

- The Brit:  My niece's fiancée who has also become a hiking partner in crime.

- Rainbow:  One of the earliest people involved with this blog, she lives in the larger vicinity of Old Home.  She and I speak more or less weekly about life, mostly disguised as a two person writer self-help group.

- The Dog Whisperer:  Another refugee from Hammerfall 3.0 looking for a new job.  Loves dogs (and animals of all kinds).  

Important Places:

Old Home:  Where I grew up and lived up to 15 years ago.  Originally a combination of the small town I actually grew up in  as well as the larger areas there which we lived in before moving to New Home, I use it more now to indicate my hometown.

New Home:  Where I currently live. An urban area located in a state not where I grew up.  One might argue "where I am currently trapped", in some senses of the phrase.

The Ranch:  The Ranch is the property my parents own and live on in <insert yet another undisclosed location here>.  It is approximately 90 acres of land in the mountains which has been our extended family for over 60 years.  You will see plenty of pictures from here.  This is where I am ultimately trying to get back to.

What do we do here?

(Note:  This is word for word from last year.  But I still believe it.)

Like most budding bloggers, when I started this blog I had great visions of this being a mighty bulwark of discussion and thought that would be a beacon of light (and, coincidentally, would let me write full time). It only took about 10 years to realize that neither of these things were going to happen.  Either because of obstinance or foolishness (I am guilty of both) I persevered.

What I did find - and what I still believe in - is that blogging represents the Social Internet (not a phrase that I came up with, but one I love): the ability of people to read, think, and discuss things on the InterWeb (as opposed to Social Media, which I detest).  What has become critically important to me  s creating a sort of InterWeb agora, a place where we can discuss subjects - some deep, some completely shallow - in a way that hopefully encourages thought and helps to build connections in a society which values neither thought nor connections except of the most shallow kind (otherwise known as Social Media).

What you find here most days is a combination of personal on-line journal, thoughts or concepts that have run through my mind, book reviews, occasional fiction, things that are just "going on" in my life, ruminations, and the occasional meme.  It is a smorgasbord of my existence (there are literally times I sit down to write with no idea what will be written, and no-one is more surprised than I am when it shows up).

Important Pages:

Ichiryo Gusoku Philosophy:  My overall guiding policy on my philosophy is here.

Ichiryo Gusoku Goals:  My overall goals are here (and they literally are aspirational at this point).

The Collapse:  A rather long running fiction series (in a series of letters) about a man watching society slowly collapse is here.  

Moving TB The Elder And Mom:  As mentioned, my parents suffered a series of health reversals in 2021.  This page pulls together the experience in hopes that others that have or will have the same issues will benefit.

What are the rules?

There are only four.

1)  Be kind in your comments:  In all my years of writing here, I have had to not publish only a handful of comments because, frankly, they were mean.  You can certainly poke holes in my theories or my writing or the responses of others.  I just ask you do it kindly.  Everyone you are responding is going through something.

2)  No profanity:  My mother was an elementary school teacher and a lovely Christian woman, so comment as if you were speaking directly to her.  Any profanity will simply not make itself a visible comment, no matter how relevant or good the comment is.

3)  We do not argue current politics:  Politics as it is practiced currently is simply an exercise in "It is your fault!  No, yours!" followed by vulgarity and crudeness.  Political Science (the practice of forming political societies and their functioning) is far more useful to actually reach a solution.

4)  We do not argue religion:  I state up front I am Christian (useful background for some of what I write) and will happily discuss my own trials and travails and thoughts.  What we do not debate is the nature of religion or different religions.  Again, see the previous comments on kindness.


Reading anything is an investment; taking the time to comment is more so.  Thanks so much for taking the time to spend a few moments of your precious time (a commodity which we cannot make more of) with me.


  1. Nylon126:08 AM

    No profanity TB? Well......gosh darn it.......... :)

    1. Well, you are the problem child, Nylon12...

      When I saw your comment, it made me chuckle a bit. I have an odd relationship with profanity, something that might make for a good post sometime.

  2. I found your blog about a year ago, and read it every day. I really enjoy the variety of subjects you write about, and most of them make me stop and think.

    1. MaryP - Thank you so much for stopping by and letting me know you read. It is a great encouragement.

      I am just as all over the place in subject matter and interests in real life as I am on this blog, sometimes to the alarm of my family (I think).

  3. If you haven't yet encountered Andy Weir, I think you should give him a try. "The Martian" and "Project Hail Mary" are as close to pre-1985 science fiction as you can get without going back 40 years.

    1. Thanks Warren! I have not read Weir (but now just acquainted myself with him) but have at least heard of The Martian - although not because of the book, but because it was a series of post that became a novel (Ah, to dream).

      The last two "most recent authors" I read that were not already deceased (at least not at the time) were C.J. Cherryh and Jerry Pournelle. Pournelle became (sadly) historical in 2017. I enjoyed Cheyrrh's early science fiction of the 70's and 80's, but kind of lost interest after one novel (Rim Runners, I think, in 1989) did not really "catch" with me. Since then, I have not really followed any modern writers, although there is a wealth of authors that are reliable on subject that I do enjoy or need to explore more - H. Beam Piper, Andre Norton, and Jerry Pournelle for those that I own, Robert Henlein and Larry Niven for those I have only read bits of. I could literally spend the rest of my life reading "old" sci-fi and be happy.

    2. Your mention of Jerry Pournelle reminds me of first meeting him through his articles in Byte magazine (when it was still a paper publication) under the Chaos Manor heading. Following on, I picked up his (and Larry Niven's) science fiction, starting with Lucifer's Hammer. I found his (their) taken on sci-fi much mor grounded than much else that I've dipped into.

    3. Will, I have read of his articles, but never read them (he seems like an endlessly fascinating fellow; sad I came to him so late). And my description of my layoffs - Hammerfall - is directly taken from Lucifer's Hammer (I did read both that and Footfall).

      I have never read Niven as a solo author.

      Pournelle's science fiction seems very grounded to me as well. It takes generally known concepts and moves them to a believable conclusion. I especially like the overall series of Falkenberg's Legion, which brings very real and believable political developments into focus. In a way, The Collapse tries to replicate that in a small fashion: take a situation that seems believable and set characters loose in it and see where it leads.

  4. I don't recall when I found you blog but surely it has been over a year and yet I don't recall reading the primer before. I'm glad I didn't break any of the rules! Gee willikers!

    1. Ed, a quick review of the posts (the comments section is completely useless for searching in the dashboard section) shows you were here at least by November of 2020. Sadly, I did not realize this and so the third year anniversary gift (leather, apparently) has gone wanting. My apologies for the delay.

      I actually on started doing them in 2021 - apparently, I suspect both to help new readers and keep my own mind clear on what I name folks (The Director, for example, has had at least three different names over the course of this blog).

      Oddly enough, almost no-one ever does break "the rules". To be fair, I sometimes purposely choose topics that will not invoke reactions that I have to police, but people are also exceptionally well mannered here. Once or twice I have had to consign something to the "Bin", but I either try to explain why or include the gist of their comment.

    2. Gosh, three years! Where has the time gone? I suspect the reason then is that I'm often gone at the time of the year you post this primer and so it went unread or more likely, read but not comprehended with the dozens of other posts read before and after.

    3. Ed, it is at least three years - who knows, the comments are not very searchable.

      Your logic is sound in terms of timing. Likely I should post it as a link over on the side.

  5. Like Ed, I don't remember when I stubbed my big toe on this blog. It has been a welcome addition the daily reading list. I think profanity is an attempt to exert authority without the user having any position to wield such. And after the head injury, I find it popping out of me occasionally. I've read about tourette, and it may be a possibility. But it grieves me when I hear it in my own voice.

    I do like to discuss politics and religion, if only to not cede subjects to the tyrants and barbarians.

    Being trapped in your locale is a scary situation. There are parts of this world I wouldn't wish on anyone. Makes sense you'd study the fine art of The Ginsu Draw. ;)

    1. STxAR, using my completely unscientific method of going through and looking at old comments in posts, I have you at least posting since October 2020, so at least three years and change, if not more.

      The best quote I vaguely remember on profanity is from Heinlein's Starship Troopers. I forget the specifics, but in general the protagonist Rico became completely fascinated with his Drill Sergeant's ability to complete destroy recruits without using profanity. Since then, I have viewed it as a short cut to actual words.

      No objection to politics or religion in general; fortunately there are plenty of places on the InterWeb where even I weigh in from time to time.

      Honestly, there are far worse places than New Home to be - it is not always my ideal, but it is manageable at this point.


Comments are welcome (and necessary, for good conversation). If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!