Celebrate the autumn equinox, or Mabon, by harvesting your inner fruits of awareness and finding gratitude for the seeds that you have both reaped and sown. The good, the bad, and the ugly. All mistakes can become beautiful lessons that guide us toward the next step in our journey when we hold gratitude in our hearts.
The Autumnal Equinox 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere was at 8:03 PM tonight. I’ve always thought that these annual astronomical events should be observed with some kind of ceremony that occurs at the time of the event.
Tonight we held a little ritual: lighting a candle, sharing the food, saying the words. It was nice to finally mark the equinox in a way that the event warranted. The ceremonial candle was a hurricane candle that we first lit during SnoVID. The panic-bought firelogs still in the box visible behind the fireplace glass are also a relic of that Texas tragedy.
We feasted on homemade spaghetti afterwards. It was a nice family affair. I offer my thanks to a local pagan that was willing to share a bit of their traditional ceremony with us.
The Wheel has once more turned, and the change of season begins. What will be is. What was will be. The Equinox is upon us, and the time to reflect, at hand. All time comes together, here and now in this sacred space. And I, but a moment in time, feel the change as I pass from one season to the next.
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects.
…But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
The reverence for the founders is at once misplaced and well earned. Any number of people could produce a better document now than they could then; what is a shame is that most of those people are not to be found in government.
I have to have hope. I have to have hope for a future, or there is little reason to plan for a future. As everything stands right now; between the pandemic exacerbated by Donald Trump’s incompetence and malfeasance and his zombified supporters still clamoring for more of the same, it has been a little hard to imagine a future that isn’t bounded by the four walls of my house and the daily walks with the dog.
But if we were to suddenly find ourselves able to travel outside of the city, or even inside the city to somewhere that wasn’t a doctor’s office for an appointment, where would I go? What would I want to do, in order to make life worth living just a little bit longer?
I am a notorious hater of all things touristy. I don’t want to get on an over-sized floating hotel and cruise to the tropics, or even fly down to the tropics to sit on a beach. Not my kind of thing at all. I would spend all that time reading, and I can read right here at home just as well as I can read there. Save the travel expenses. Pretend to be gone and do some intense reading alone at home.
There are destinations that I could find the urge to travel to, if travel was a thing that was possible and I could afford it. I would prefer to do my traveling like so many other writers have done. Hiring on as help on a freighter or just taking passage on one and getting off at whatever port suited me and exploring to my heart’s content. Were I still in my twenties and situated the way I am now, I wouldn’t have hesitated to take this route of exploration.
I could easily be dead within a week of leaving port, but that wouldn’t have mattered to twenty-year-old me. I would have enjoyed the extremely short adventure anyway. Since I’m no longer 20 but more like 60 with a family that needs me to survive past next week, I have to surrender to the reality of my physical state and admit that I’m not up to working my way across the ocean anymore, even if I really never was. Maybe the travel would be more like Anita Willets-Burnham chronicles in Round the World on a Penny than it would be like Mark Twain on the one hand or the average cruise ship passenger on the other. Frugal, but safe and expansive.
I have a board on Pinterest where I have posted images of places that have struck an emotional chord with me:
They are from all over the world. When it comes to places I would like to visit, there is far more to see than there is time to see it in. Just the other day I ran across another story of a destination that would be well worth the trip:
A spectacular parade that began after nightfall in Egypt and around lunchtime ETproceeded along the length of the avenue, which is lined on either side by over 600 ram-headed statues and traditional sphinxes, statues with a lion’s body and a human’s head.
The extravagant march included participants in pharaonic dress, a symphony orchestra, lighting effects, professional dancers, boats on the Nile, horse drawn carriages and more.
Sure the opening event is over, but the trip to see this newly reopened path would be an amazing adventure for the amateur archeologist in me. Egypt is a no-brainer. Yes, tourists go there and there are tourist traps all over the place there. Doesn’t matter. The architecture is what I would go for. The same goes for Rome and Athens or any place that has reasonably intact ruins that beckon to be explored.
I was lamenting the lack of hope in the world today to The Wife recently. How it was going to be a long time before we’d be able to get out of Texas and do the exploring we both want to do. Her response? You won’t do anything touristy so we’d have a hard time going anywhere anyway. I’d suggest sailing with Cunard from the US to Britain, but that would be a touristy thing and you won’t do it. She might swallow her teeth to hear me say this, but that trip sounds great. It would be even better if the ship sailed up North a little farther and gave us a view of the Northern Lights for a few nights in a row. A week on the ocean looking at the stars sounds like a great time to me. I’ll be looking at stars because I’ll pretty much be confined to deck unless I want to be drugged senseless, but I could go for that anyway. I haven’t seen a decent night’s sky in more than ten years. Seven nights on the ocean sounds like heaven.
After we dock in Britain at the other end of the journey, we could cross over to Ireland to visit her ancestral kin there and have a pint of Guinness at the brewery. We could stay a week or a month getting to know the place, wherever it is we land at. Sounds like a plan to me.
I’m not into aimless wandering and I’m not related to anyone in Ireland that would care. You won’t know until you get there, dear. Who’s wandering aimlessly? I have a goal: Guinness at the brewery. That is my goal.
Crossing Europe by train? I’d go for that in an instant if it was cheap enough. Trains and their support structures are an engineering and architectural wet dream combined. I’d never have to leave the train or the station. I’d just hang around gawking at the structures until we’re ready to move again. No need for additional itinerary.
Which is the only real problem. There are tons of things to see in every city and town along the way through Europe, and there is no way to appreciate this fact unless you get out of the vehicle you are traveling in, lace up your shoes, strap on your pack and start walking. That is the way to travel. Hiking cross country has been a thing I always wanted to try but never had a chance to do. When you have to work every day of every week just to keep the lights on and the roof over your head, there is no time for sightseeing or joyriding unless you work it into the routine that you have to keep up.
This proposed form of travel struck the Wife as a unique form of torture. It would. She blew out both her knees in marching band. Each step is precious to her these days. I’d send her ahead in a car to scout out a place to sleep for the next week or month while I did the hiking I love. It’ll give her time to chat up the natives, that’s what she does best anyway. She just slows me down when we’re out walking. Having someone to talk to can make all the difference, but in the end you have to make the distance in the time allowed.
Like so many other lists that people make, the bucket list is one I will have to pass on. There will not be a list of ten things I’d like to do or see before I die. I won’t limit myself to a list of places that I would like to go. You never know if the thing you really should see is the thing right next to what you are supposed to see unless you take the time to go there and look around. No travel itinerary will allow for that kind of loitering. That is my objection to touristy travel. I want to sip tea until I’m ready to leave, not until the group is ready to leave. An itinerary is for tourists, and I don’t do touristy.
As Rose Eveleth explains in a brief piece titled Two-Thirds of the World Still Hates Lefties: “Even the word left comes from ‘lyft’ which meant broken. The German words ‘linkisch’ also means awkward. The Russian word ‘levja’ is associated with being untrustworthy. Synonyms for left in Mandarin are things like weird, incorrect and wrong.” Meanwhile, “right” has mostly positive associations (e.g. “correct”). The history here is long, and not just linguistic — in the Middle Ages, witchcraft was sometimes associated with left-handedness as well.
The 13th of August is international left-handers day. I find the selection of that day to represent all the people who share my digital disfigurement to be strangely apropos. Thirteen is supposedly a bad number because the twelve disciples plus Jesus equals thirteen people at an event. There are many buildings that do not have a thirteenth floor. Friday the thirteenth is supposedly an unlucky day. Today is Lefthanders Day, an unlucky day on the most ominous day of the week. How fortuitous for those of us who celebrate this kind of oddity.
The thirteenth is my lucky day. I was born on the thirteenth. I got married on the thirteenth because the wife insists I remember things that fall on the thirteenth day of the month. She also scheduled the births of our children (C-sections are like that) for the thirteenth of the month. It isn’t her fault the children didn’t actually emerge on those days (birth is like that) So when Friday the thirteenth rolls around I enjoy the double-whammy of good luck; my favorite day of the week and my favorite day of the month combined into one great day to celebrate. Celebrate your weirdness. Instead of triskaidekaphobia embrace triskaidekaphilia in the presence of that sinister friend of yours:
While much of the world has at least accepted left-handedness in modern times, there were long periods in many countries in which left-handed children would have their tied hands behind backs in to “retrain” them. Intentions were good, in theory — kids were supposed to be prepared for a right-handed world, or so went the thinking. Paul Broca’s breakthroughs regarding the lateralization of the brain in the 1800s were a first step in recognizing the scientific reality of left-handedness, but research was slow to expand well into the 1900s.
Today, we take for granted that equipment should fit a wide range of body sizes rather than being standardized around the “average person.” From this understanding has come the science of ergonomics: the study of how to match people’s physical capacity to the needs of the job.
I can’t write with either hand, so it makes little difference to me that I am lefthanded. Still, there is no denying that scissors conspire against me, that pliers and other hand-specific tools attempt to maim me and all of the projects I embark upon. There is little surprise that power tools terrify me. The guards are always on the wrong side of the blade. The handles on the wrong side of the cutting surface. Left-handers are maimed at a much higher rate than right-handed people because the tools are not designed for them to be held in the left hand. The amazing part of all of this is that we manage to thrive in spite of the barriers put in our way. Celebrate being in your right minds. Southpaws unite!
Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.
John Dickinson, 1776
Today I discovered to my horror that I have never written a proper review for my favorite Independence Day movie. Facebook reminded me that I sat down on July 4, 2013 and watched the Blu-ray version of:
But on that day eight years ago, I wrote a single line of text as a review for Facebook. I also quoted the movie twice, the quotes I include here, but all in all, not much of a review for a movie that I have seen no less than a score of times now. I searched the blog for a review; and while I have mentioned the movie many times here, I have never written an article just for the movie itself. I will rectify this lack of a proper review here and now.
1776 started life as a musical written by Peter Stone and the movie was written by Stone and directed by Peter H. Hunt. I have watched a variant of this film on the fourth of July every year since the Wife convinced me that musicals could be interesting by forcing me to sit down and watch A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum back at the beginning of our relationship. After that movie it was time to watch My Fair Lady and Victor/Victoria to name just two of my favorite musicals. On and on this introduction to the genre went, until I actually wanted to watch The Sound of Music for myself, and then I had to admit that there were some musicals that were okay. Somewhere in the middle of this educational series we sat down and watched a friend’s laserdisc copy of 1776.
The story of the existence of this version of the film is a tale all on its own. Peter Stone wrote his narrative on the creation of the Declaration of Independence back in 1969, and it was performed on Broadway 1,217 times. It was an unlikely success given its subject matter and the fact that the play went nearly thirty minutes between songs in the first act. It is a who-dun-it of a story about events that we know transpired successfully, and yet you wonder how it ever happened as you watch the actors on the screen. After the play left Broadway it was picked up to be made into a movie, the screenplay for which Peter Stone also wrote. He and the director struck up a good working relationship, and both were pleased with the resulting film when they put it to bed in preparation for its scheduled wide release.
Unbeknownst to them, the producer of the film, Jack Warner, had gotten a personal phone call from Tricky Dick Nixon, requesting that the musical not be released without at least being modified from the stage play. Specifically, he wanted this song removed from the film:
Jack Warner happily obliged, taking a handy pair of scissors to the film that he had told the director and the writer would not be altered from their approved cut. In the end he removed not only the offending song, but several other scenes and verses of songs so that the film flowed more to his personal liking.
After this radical revision it should have been no mystery why the movie went on to financial failure, being shoved into the historical waist bin along with the objectionable parts of the movie that Jack Warner removed. Except that the removed sections were not destroyed as Jack Warner directed. His secretary took the scenes out of the trash and preserved them so that they could be returned to the film’s director. This way he would know what had happened to the movie that he had so lovingly crafted over the preceding years, but had never been allowed to be seen by movie goers.
Decades went by, and interests came and went. There was talk of a revival of the Broadway musical, and along with it the question of what happened to the movie version that had tanked so horribly when it was released? Enough interest was generated that Pioneer contacted Warner Brothers and Peter Hunt about creating a laserdisc version of the movie for interested collectors.
Peter Hunt decided to reassemble the original film for Pioneer’s laserdisc version. The movie is complete with Jack Warner’s scribbles at the edit points, and the dust and scratch marks on several of the removed scenes. One removed scene was only available in black and white, a test-run, a connective shot that explains why some characters are outside the hall when the crucial independence declaration arrived from Virginia. There is a secondary audio on the laserdisc that goes into more depth about the story that I’ve related here as well. If you have a laserdisc player, you really should own a copy of this movie on laserdisc. It, like the making of The Abyss on its laserdisc release, is unique. There is no place else to find the exact content that is on that disc.
Watching that version of the film is to travel back in time to the years when it was made, an interesting juxtaposition between the times that were being celebrated with song, and the times when America was burning with internecine conflicts at the hands of the most ruthless man then living, the sitting President of the United states. It is nice to have that perspective as we nurse ourselves back from the brink of destruction, yet again. It’s hard to know how to feel this July fourth.
The United States has survived the presidency of the despot, Donald Trump, and the pandemic that he allowed to rage unchecked across the country and the world while he worried about what this meant for his re-election chances. The sun still rises and sets without him in the White House today, and it is quietly reassuring to not be told what it is that pisses Joe Biden off every single day that we wake up. What a nice change from the last four years of hell that we have all endured.
The Blu-ray version of 1776 is different from the raw attempt at destruction that is on display in the laserdisc copy of the film. Gone are the jarring ink-marks and color changes that announce Jack Warner’s and Tricky Dick’s violent raping of the movie before it was allowed to be seen by American audiences. The scenes flow smoothly in and out of song, just the way the director left it. Just the way he intended it to be seen. It was a nice contrast to experience the film the way it should have been seen back in 1972. A nice change from the conflict that has consumed us all for the last few decades.
I find this depth of hindsight inspiring. The hand of destruction escaped at the last moment, leaving the people to reflect on what it was that we almost allowed to happen. Again. And again. And again. Let us recommit ourselves to the experiment that started in 1776. It would be a shame to let all the sacrifice be for nothing if we don’t. Watch the reconstructed version of the movie, or see if you can find that secondary audio track that I mention on the laserdisc. Be inspired, yourself.
Commitment, Abby, commitment! There are only two creatures of value on the face of this earth: those with a commitment, and those who require the commitment of others.
International Left Handers Day is an international day observed annually on August 13 to celebrate the uniqueness and differences of the left handers. The day was first observed in 1976 by Dean R. Campbell, founder of the Lefthanders International, Inc.
International Left Hander’s Day was created to celebrate sinistrality and raise awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed in a predominantly right-handed world. It celebrates left-handed people’s uniqueness and differences, a subset of humanity comprising seven to ten percent of the world’s population. The day also spread awareness on issues faced by left-handers e.g. the importance of the special needs for left-handed children, and the likelihood for left-handers to develop schizophrenia. There are approximately 708 million left-handed people in the world. Men are more likely to be left handed than women.
I don’t talk about this subject much. I don’t know too many of the southpaws who do. It is cross we bear, like the torture devices created by right-handed people for right handed people. Things like scissors and saws and clipboards. Equipment virtually designed to maim and handicap those people who dare to grab them with the other hand rather than the right one.
We don’t talk about it because there is little point in doing so. Most people don’t like to complain or to be known as complainers. But it bears mentioning, just this once, that someone says “Oh, you’re left-handed?” in a surprised voice every single time we pick up a writing implement or flip papers upside down on a clipboard. Someone asks that question of us repeatedly as if the fact of this isn’t apparent to us every time we try to use your specially crafted torture devices.
It is a right-handed world built for right-handed people. We left-handers just have to figure out how to live in it. Don’t blame us if we end up doing it better than you right-handers do. We are the only ones in our right minds. Science has demonstrated this fact.
I’m more ambidextrous than most people are. The blame for this can probably be pinned down to an accident in my Dad’s shop next to the gas station he inherited from his father. Because clean, damp rags are essential for cleaning windshields, and cleaning windshields was part of being a full-service filling station, the shop had a constantly running washing machine with an attached wringer right up front near the doors in the shop. The attendants would throw soiled rags into the washer and then wring one out fresh before servicing the next vehicle that showed up.
I had discovered that the wringer was an amazing machine for flattening and precisely creasing candy wrappers and other paper that I put in it. I knew I shouldn’t be playing around in the garage like that, but I couldn’t resist the fascination of the constantly-moving rollers and the way they sucked up everything fed into them. Couldn’t even resist as the rollers sucked up the fingers of my left hand and tried to wring out my arm in the process. Luckily or unluckily the thumb on my left hand caught against the guard on the wringer and kept the wringer from going farther up than the palm of my hand.
Because I knew I shouldn’t have been playing with the machine (and not wanting to sound hysterical) I calmly said “can someone help me?” none of the guys noticed me, so I said a little louder “can someone please come help me get out of this?” when they looked up and noticed me attached to the washing machine, I was suddenly the center of attention. “Why didn’t you yell?” they asked me several times. “You could have been seriously injured!”
…and I could have. The wringer, like all mechanical devices, was set up at a particular angle specifically to reduce strain and injury for right-handed people. Left-handers were more vulnerable almost by design, making the ability to leverage yourself out of the machine a near-impossibility if your dominant arm is trapped and the closest one to the wringing device.
I got lucky. I had to use my right hand for about six weeks, and the muscle that attaches my thumb to the palm of my hand still pains me periodically. I learned to write right-handed because of this accident, and because I could do that kind of work right-handed I was more inclined to take up right-handed mousing when I started using the computer. But no matter which hand I’m using at the moment, my handwriting still sucks ass. That is the dysgraphia, not the injury or my sinister nature.
Being ambidextrous makes me more prone to accident, from my perspective. I’m more tentative about how to approach any kind of manual work. Would this hand or that hand be better? I thoughtlessly grab with both hands and miss most of the time. It should be no wonder that power tools rank as one of the most frequent subjects of my nightmares.
So Southpaws unite! Time for a Sinister convention. Today is our day. That it happens to be my favorite day of my favorite month is just a happy coincidence.
The post asked me to defend the words in the image when it appeared in the Facebook group. Defend the words in the image? Why? But then one of the Stormtrumpers asked the question.
What’s wrong with it?
What I see in the image is two guys standing at urinals talking trash. That’s what I see in that image. Oh, wait. There is a Spacex launch in the distance. Neither of them are Spacex employees. Not sure what they have to do with that. They have everything to do with the fact that there are 120,000+ Americans dead due to the Coronavirus pandemic rampaging unchecked across the American landscape, but they have very little to do with the success of private industry taking us back to the Moon.
Manifest Destiny? We are the children of the enslavers, the inheritors of the fruits of genocide. That is who we are, that is what Manifest Destiny meant. To conquer the continent and claim it as our own at any cost. Going to the Moon? Spacex is going to the Moon. Corporations will slice the Moon up and fight each other over the spoils if we continue on the current course.
Americans are the collected rubbish and cast-offs of every other continent, fueled by their own aggrandized image of themselves. That’s what is wrong with Manifest Destiny. Our destiny is what we make of it, and it certainly isn’t manifest. Don’t get me wrong. Humanity should spread throughout the solar system and explore all the places we can get to in order to discover everything we can about the universe that makes us what we are. I’m just not comfortable with the first and last White president and his Christianist cohort declaring that it is our destiny to own the moon.
We cannot continue as we are. We cannot look toward the future while standing on the bodies of this many innocent people. To do that is inhumane and cancels any hope you might have for a brighter future.
Oh, you think I’m piling on now? You think this negative attitude isn’t warranted on Independence day? Listen to the voices of those children recite the words of their father from over a hundred years ago and realize that we haven’t done anything to deliver justice for these people. Don’t point to the Civil War as proof of doing something. We restored the nation and then turned our backs on the former slaves. A hundred years and we still have cops killing them in the street over a minor provocation. We trample on the poor and the homeless and leave the refugee starving on our doorstep.
We don’t deserve to go the Moon. Maybe the next country to raise its head above the level of shit we’ve left floating in the common pool will be worthy of escaping this planet. But not us, and not now.
That is what is wrong with Manifest Destiny.
I’m just so worried that my grandfather might have been one of the people that lynched that man.
Editor’s note. This was the first article written for ranthonyings.com.