13 November 2017: November Darkness

Thanks to a link posted by someone I follow on Micro.blog, I came across The Dark Feels Different in November, which introduced me to the concept of ma:

Ma loosely translates to negative space, to emptiness, vacancy, blankness. It is a pause, in time, space, music, conversation. “Ma makes nothingness palpable and tangible,” writes Ando. It’s a space ripe with an atmosphere of uncertainty, suspension, and possibility. The Japanese character consists of the graphic for door and for moon, suggesting “a door through the crevice of which the moonshine peeps in,” as the Swedish linguist Bernhard Karlgren defines it in his Analytic Dictionary of Chinese and Sino-Japanese. Ma is the crack that lets the light in.
...
The candlelight makes one better know the dark, the shadows, the spaces unseen. And the dark—the hollows and corners behind the curtains, above the rafters, the places where dimness pools—helps one better know the light.

Likewise, ma makes one aware of the presence of absence. It’s the gap where the moonlight sifts through; it’s the space between two slate stones that guide your steps along a path; it’s the hollow where ghosts gather; it’s the pause in conversation, the ripe silence of the unspoken.

It’s worth your time.

78 thoughts on “13 November 2017: November Darkness”

  1. No sun - no moon!
    No morn - no noon -
    No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
    No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
    No comfortable feel in any member -
    No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
    No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -

    November!

      1. Yes, this is very much something that appeals to me. I don’t think I could live cloistered life with a vow of silence, but I’m in awe of people who can make that kind of commitment. 1,000 Days, a short film on a Tendai monk’s Kaihōgyō seven-year pilgrimage, enthralled me; I’ve watched it at least three times in the last few weeks.

    1. He finishes his career near-as-makes-no-difference to 70 rWAR, which is 8th all-time for center fielders, behind Joltin’ Joe but clearly ahead of HoFers Snider, Dawson, Ashburn, & Hamilton. The closest CFer to Beltrán by rWAR is Kenny Lofton, which makes me hopeful that Lofton will eventually be elected from a committee.

      I have totally Battey’d Beltrán’s time with the Giants, not to mention that trade being how the Mets acquired Zach Wheeler.

  2. From Russell Hammond in Almost Famous:

    But… it’s not what you put in, is it?
    It’s what you leave out. Listen to… listen to Marvin Gaye…
    A song like “What’s Going On.” That single “woo” at the end of the second verse – you know that woo – that single “woo.”

    That’s what you remember. The silly things, the little things… there’s only one, and it makes the song.
    It’s what you leave out. That’s rock and roll.

  3. Re: the Darkness of November. I haven't read that article yet (I will tonight).
    I remember being down on some election results years and years ago (perhaps I had different politics then) and it seemed that even the world felt hopeless, the nights much darker. Then I realized that it was a November without snow; when there's snow on the ground, the nights aren't so dark. But if we get to December without snow, it's even worse. When the snow melts in spring, the days are so much longer.

    I think this effect gets compounded for me because at the same time the days are shortening and the end of DST takes away the evening I had grown accustomed to, my job requires me to work later and/or earlier. I'm often never out in the daylight between sunset on Sunday and sunrise on Saturday. Yesterday, I had my kids out in the woods in the afternoon and it wasn't quite 4pm, but I felt night already creeping up with long, cold shadows. Maybe if we hung out on the east side of the River to get the setting sun...

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    1. Yikes. My great uncle Pat broke his back twice in falls off power poles (he was a lineman). Then, after the second injury, he fell out of his tree stand, leading to one of the great pieces of family lore. Pat’s laying there on the ground, wind knocked out of him & heart racing, thinking he’s paralyzed. Slowly, his breath returned. He wiggled his fingers; they still worked. He wiggled his toes; they still worked. He let out a big sigh of relief, and then shouted “Invincible!” A couple heart attacks eventually slowed him down, and a subsequent one years later claimed him. In a German/Polish family full of unique characters he was an indispensable bit of Irish blarney.

    2. A buddy of mine from Stillwater was cleaning his gutter a week ago and the ladder came loose, falling ~20 ft. He broke both of his legs multiple times. In the hospital now. He had the clarity to push himself away from the ladder so that he would fall on his legs (versus head/back/etc.).

      It's going to be a long recovery.

      1. Yikes.

        I used to roof houses in the summer. Have seen some frightful falls, but nothing that bad. Fell about ten feet off of some scaffolding once, but just bruises. I also once saw my dad manage to flip a ladder that was falling backwards around, and he clung to the now-underside and crawled down. That was something else.

  4. Finally broke down and drug myself to urgent care after experiencing tinnitus in my right ear. (Insert picture of Archer looking way cooler than I do right now.)

  5. So, the third most powerful person at my institution made some wildly inappropriate comments about me today. He did so while standing on the street corner where every tourist near the Louisiana Supreme Court heard him say this foul thing repeatedly. If that wasn't enough, he decided to approach a colleague from my department and reiterate said terrible thing. I filed an official grievance with HR, but he's protected. I told the CFO that I was leaving the institution if they couldn't find a way to officially sanction this asshole. Looks like I'll be polishing my resume tomorrow.

  6. Related to the darkness thing:
    I really wish they could push the end of DST back to before Halloween. It sucks not being able to go trick-or-treating in the dark until around 6:30 pm. Instead of 5:30 pm.
    It feels like a global warming thing, but it's just a legislative construct.

        1. On weekdays in late-November to mid-January, I cherish my few minutes of daylight getting to my bus or getting from it to my office (depending on my schedule).
          Without ending DST, it wouldn't be light out until after 8:30 am. As I'm usually home after 5:30 anyways (and typically later from October 10-December 23), adding an hour of daylight to the hour before my commute would gain me nothing.
          Also: DST reduces electricity consumption from lighting but increases electricity consumption from Air Conditioning, so with current climate-control and efficient bulbs, it's a net energy-drain on our economy (which it likely was not at the time of its design and implementation).

          One more complaint about the timing of it, though: it's now typically on deer opener weekend in MN, which means that I don't even really get to benefit from sleeping in, because I'm getting up that Sunday based on sunrise. And that Sunday is so busy that it's out-of-schedule (with travel back from deer camp) and no hour really feels gained or lost.

          1. DST reduces electricity consumption from lighting but increases electricity consumption from Air Conditioning

            Everything I've read indicates it's a wash. I've seen indications both ways, but by small amounts.

            The timing of the switch would be moot if it's permanent.

            1. Having worked in the energy sector for a while, and seen residential energy curves, I agree that it's a wash. If it was big and significant, it would have been a standard feature in everyone's models, but it's not.

              The funniest energy savings event I learned of is the Super Bowl. Energy use dips enough during the game to move the hourly prices on the real-time market.

          2. I think it would be short-sighted to make a policy change on DST that is likely to last decades because it’s temporarily a net energy-drain. (The extent of this drain is debatable.) The shift toward renewable energy (particularly residential solar) would seemingly make this a negligible consideration within a couple decades (one hopes).

          3. Your preference runs exactly counter to mine. I get a shot at some more significant daylight in the winter late afternoon/early evening if we were to keep standard time (and then my kid wouldn't have to do his outside chores in the dark). And since no one is doing anything other than getting ready for the day and commuting in the morning, there's a better chance of having usable daylight in the afternoon/evening.

            1. No one does anything other than getting ready for the day in the morning? News to me. If anything, the amusing thing about DST is that it proves people could get up an hour earlier in the day if they just put their minds to it.

                1. This just proves that when externally motivated, you can wake up earlier. If you can do it when externally motivated, it is possible for you to do it if you are internally motivated.

            1. I noticed that it won't always be so... In 2020, DST ends two hours after Halloween (Nov 1 is a Sunday). Deer hunting won't be until the next weekend.
              On average, 2 out of 7 years will have Nov 1 be a Saturday or Sunday, which will be the end of DST but not deer opener. But 2020 being a Leap Year negates one of them this cycle.

      1. I'm with you on that.

        I'm okay with having DST and standard time because I do value the later days in the summer (no sense in all that daylight when I'm sleeping). Plus, I like more light in the morning in wintertime.

      2. Really? Who tricks-and-treats in the daylight? Does anyone that actually wants to trick-or-treat want to do so in the daylight?
        Nothing started in my neighborhood until it was some degree of dark. Because of that, my little ones stayed up much later than they would have with the non-DST Halloween.

    1. If we are going to maintain this ridiculous arrangement, the real question to me is why we don’t leverage technology to slowly shift the switch between Daylight & Standard Time over several weeks or months in sync with the change in afternoon/evening sunlight. With all the amazing pocket supercomputers out there being used as folks’ primary means of time-telling, this would be pretty dang easy to accomplish.

      1. That is done for leap seconds now. The second is "smeared" over the entire day. It was easier to lie about the true time than update the many programs that can't deal with the 61st second. The mechanism used could also be used for longer transitions if everyone agreed.

      2. I am a crazy person that wants noon on the clock to be as close to solar noon as is practical--not an hour or more off. I can wake up earlier if the sunlight is in the morning and I want more sunlight. (And usually I am up at 5:30am and I'd rather not shift the clocks to make it even darker at that time of the year.) Humbug.

          1. Right, when on standard time, we tend to get closer to solar noon and noon on the clock being the same. One place that has truly messed-up time is Barcelona. Despite being almost straight south from London, it is on UTC + 1 instead of UTC. So on daylight savings time, sunrise and sunset are really 2 hours later than they should be.

      3. this would be pretty dang easy to accomplish
        Ha! Companies still have software running in COBOL on mainframes.

        I think the very least concern is for folk's time-telling. What you're talking about affects all interfaces with international schedules, as I assume other countries would not be changing. There are still systems out there that don't deal well with a single 1-hour shift happening twice a year, let alone multiple shifts. In addition, any systems which depend on a day being 24 hours long won't put up with that paradigm changed multiple times.

        Astronomers, on the other hand, might be more amicable to mean solar day and sidereal time...

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