Vernal Equinox 2022 C.E.

Today is the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere – that date when the length of the daylight and nighttime are most nearly equal. (I would call this ‘the folk understanding’. If I wanted to get geekier, I could give you the astronomer’s definition, blathering about the ecliptic and the inclination of the rotational axis of the Earth, and whatnot – but what one can observe in the immediate world around them comes down to the lengths of the days and the nights.) From now until Midsummer’s Day in June, the days will keep growing longer, until we get to that longest day. Thereafter, to the Autumnal Equinox in September, the days will grow shorter until on that date they will balance again; then the nights will be longer than the days, up to Midwinter’s Day in late December, when we have that longest, darkest night. Thereafter, the cycle repeats, and once again the days will start getting longer.

This is the ‘astronomical first day of Spring’. If you look around my neighborhood closely, you can see various plants pushing their first green shoots out of the ground. Early birds like snowdrops and jonquils will actually send up flowers soon. (My SiL near Cleveland just told me her jonquils are already up!) And real ‘early birds’ will start migrating back to the area. (I have seen many robins around, but they cheat a bit – not all of them migrate. 😉 ) I will be seeing swarms of insects soon; all the riot of life that greets us each Spring will soon be upon us, with chirps and peeps and the yowling of tomcats ‘looking for their kitty’ in the warm dark.

The ancient, endless cycle repeats; the eternal promise of the awakening of the land from its cold winter slumber is fulfilled. Soon gardens and farms will be planted; soon will come spring lambs, foals, chicks, and all other manner of newborns.

I have been very lucky (some would say “blessed”); there has also been quite a bit of rebirth and renewal in my own life. I still have hard and uncertain times ahead of me, but I also know that I have times ahead of great joy, satisfaction in well-earned accomplishments, and the fulfillment of some long-dormant dreams. I don’t dread the former; I eagerly welcome the latter.

Happy Ostara, everyone!

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The Gift and The Box

I kinda got into a pissing match with my brother over on FB. I regret that tremendously.

Our issue, at least from my perspective, is that the what I wanted to say got all entangled in the how I said it. The ‘what’ was the truth in my heart; the ‘how’ was the part I botched so badly.

I think he and I will be able to resolve our conflict. (I’ve tried reaching out to him; Waiting Is). And what I am going to have to be painstaking about, when we speak again, is to carefully separate the Gift (the what I want to say) and the Box I deliver it in (the how I say it – my tone, my choice of words, my body language if we communicate with a tool that gives video, or if we manage to get into the same physical space).

Make sure the box doesn’t detract from the gift. And make sure the gift is worthy of the box you put it in.

Edited to Add: – I was finally was able to talk with my brother over the phone this afternoon. He isn’t hurt or mad, and we agree that I didn’t put as much care into the Box as to the Gift I was trying to give him. All good – and more fuel in my fire to get better.

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More Modeling and the “motte and bailey” of Four-Letter Words (sfw – mostly)

Izzat love what I feel when you’re in my arms
Make me die before I’d do you harm
When you’re lost I will lead you home
If you’re cold, you know I’ll keep you warm

Am I wrong?

Or izzat love when I dream there is no one else
In the end, who’s your friend? Just myself
Izzat love to forget my pride
To conceal how it feels deep inside

Am I wrong?
Or izzat love?
Izzat love? Izzat love? Izzat love?
Izzat love?
Izzat love? Izzat love? Izzat love?

Izzat love to forgive all those things you’ve done
If you go still you know I’m the one
Only love, love alone can survive
Deep inside I believe it’s alive

Am I wrong?
Am I wrong?
Am I wrong?

Or izzat love?
Izzat love? Izzat love? Izzat love?
Izzat love?
Izzat love? Izzat love? Izzat love?
Izzat love?
Izzat love? Izzat love? Izzat love?

– Todd Rungren, “Izzat Love?

Once I get the bit into my teeth about something, especially something emotionally laden, I often have a hard time giving it up. And the theorizing I’ve been doing about my little emotional model is a prime example.

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On achieving rokkyu aikidoka

Friends try killing me.
We bow and smile. New gold gleams –
Mount Fuji beckons.

posed image of "Dynamic Sphere" aikido text and yellow obi (belt)

Edited to Add – My very good friend and fellow martial artist Eric Raymond pointed out a syllabic mistake I had made in my first line, and had also proposed a wonderful correct alternative, which I trust he will not be offended if I decline. Domo arigato!

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I’ve had a pretty crappy year.

Separated from my wife (two days before our anniversary!) and getting divorced. Had my heart fractured if not broken at least one other time.

Had to move twice, and I know that my current residence is not good for more than a year.

In financial trouble with the IRS and state.

And of course, looking at the dismal state of our Nation and the world.


And it’s a pretty crappy day. Typical for northern Ohio late in November – rainy, cold, grey, dismal. I’m in my apartment by myself. I won’t be going out to a feast today, nor will anybody be coming by.



And yet….
And Yet….

I have the love and support of friends and family. (I actually do get to see my mother and siblings tomorrow, and we’ll feast then, so my previous lament rings a bit hollow.) I can and will have as great a feast, either here or with them tomorrow, as we would all like.

I have my health, enough wealth to get by now, and essentially unlimited ability to earn more (several ways!) as I want and need. I’m getting stronger, more agile, and more coordinated through my aikido, and I’m intensively trying to improve my mind and heart as well.

I am living free in the greatest nation in the world.

For all this – and for even more things unmentioned – I am profoundly thankful. For exactly where I am right now, and where I intend to get to in the very near future.

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving Day 2021, Everyone!

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Cleaning up some stuff

Today I published an essay that I’ve had hanging around for a while. Would appreciate any feedback, especially from subject matter experts in the field (either pros or people who’ve “been there, done that”).

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I saw this memory today on Facebook, reposted by a good friend:

And the Spirit of the Wolf howled in my psychic ears, crying “Tell Shadow’s story!

Here it is. I am cooking some cured pork shoulder for my dinner this evening, and I will be sure to set out a generous portion for her shade. (You’ll get the reference.)

Hail, Shadow Middenheap, queen amongst dogs!

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Not “Someday”, Today

And maybe someday we’ll figure all this out

Try to put an end to all our doubt

Try to find a way to make things better now that

Maybe someday we’ll live our lives out loud

We’ll be better off somehow, someday

Rob Thomas, “Someday

(listen to the music, but skip the video – it’s pretty sappy…..)

In the last couple of days I “figured all this out”. Not really. But I did decide to “live my life out loud”.

I’m going to say a few things here, about myself and my beliefs, to clarify my position on some current social issues, and on the direction I see that our nation is headed. I do not want anyone to misunderstand my position, even if I hadn’t articulated it very well yet. I’m not doing this for shock value. I just think it’s becoming time where everyone now has to figure out where they stand, and to be able to describe it to yourself – and to the world – well enough to figure out which side of the lines now being drawn you stand on.
Here I Stand.

Please read this very carefully. All generalizations were precisely chosen; you may want to consider if or how you fit into any of them. I also make precise use of quantifiers, like “none”, “any”, “some”, “most”, etc.


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I believe I inadvertently managed to give myself an endogenous drug overdose. 😛

Don’t worry, I’m gonna be OK.

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September 11th

My youngest brother, a retired firefighter and paramedic, is currently the president of the Western Reserve Fire Museum. Today, on the 20th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, they held a short ceremony to commemorate and remember the ultimate sacrifice made by so many firefighters and other emergency personnel that day.

The program:

WelcomeJames Bell, President, Western Reserve Fire Museum
National AnthemCleveland Institute of Music Brass Ensemble
Opening PrayerCaptain Joe Mason Cleveland Fire Dept., (Ret.)
Movement of FlagCleveland Fire Depart. Honor Guard
Opening RemarksJames Bell
Guest SpeakersGreg Glauner, Chief of Brunswick Fire Dept.
Michael Millet, Chaplain Bedford Fire Dept., (Ret.)
Musical Selection“America the Beautiful”   –   CIM Brass Ensemble
Tolling of the BellLt. Robert Szabo Cleveland Heights Fire Dept., (Ret.)
Playing of “Taps”CIM Brass Ensemble
Closing Prayer:Captain Joe Mason & Chaplain Michael Millet
Musical Selection“Amazing Grace”   –   CIM Brass Ensemble
Closing RemarksJames Bell

It was patriotic but not partisan, holy but not particularly sectarian, at one level completely formulaic but still deeply moving to me. Both Chief Glauner and Chaplain Millet were among the thousands of firefighters who spontaneously left their communities, their families, and their normal lives to come to NYC to assist, in whatever ways small or large that they could, their brothers and sisters in the fire service who had been so grievously hurt. Each spoke of how they didn’t see themselves as heroes, but as just serving their calling.

Each also spoke to the unity our nation had in those dark days of later September 2001, and how we needed it back. Neither could say exactly how we would get there – both were good enough to not mention any politician or political position as either the cause or remedy. But I felt a CALLthat should be repeated nationwide – for each of us to try to bring ourselves, our minds and our hearts, back to that time of cooperation and common purpose.

And I – one who has never served like that, never laid it all on the line for my fellows, yet one who is deeply moved by the service of those who do – I will do my utter best to answer that call.

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