Shorter Days · 3 July 2021

And now, the days get shorter.

The summer solstice has passed (it is in the past), which means that the days are getting shorter. And shorter and shorter. So short, in fact, that by the time we hit the winter solstice, there is practically no day left. At least here in the Pacific Northwest.

(By the way, have you ever noticed that sometimes you get confused about words more after you read their definitions? Me neither. But the words that sometimes confused me in the past are “passed” and “past.” Sure, we passed the time in the past, but that is a simple use of the two words. And you might have passed up the opportunity in the past, but now you want it back. Anyway. If you ever get confused by words that sound the same but have different meanings, you are not alone. Lots of people use the wrong words at the wrong times. And some people put parenthetical thoughts where they do not belong either.)

Where was I? Oh yes. The past having passed.

This year’s summer solstice has passed and now the days are getting shorter. I know. The closer to the equator, the less pronounced the effect is and the farther from the equator, the more pronounced the effect is. Still, having lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, I have come to both love and hate the effects of the solstices.

It is funny really. We tend to anticipate the longest day of the year. We know that the sunshine is lasting longer as spring turns into summer. Or in our case, the light behind the clouds tends to last longer as spring rains turn into summer showers.

Then it happens. The summer solstice comes and goes, and it is time to get ready for winter again. Okay. It is not quite that quick, but it is interesting that we get all excited about the longest day of the year and then it is over. Just like that.

It would be really nice if we could have a week or two of the longest day of the year. Sunshine for fifteen or sixteen hours a day for a couple weeks would be nice. We could rise and set with the sun. We could enjoy the long beautiful solstice days.

Of course, that would mean winter solstice would last a couple weeks too. That would be dreadful. Four hours of sunshine a day. (Okay that is an exaggeration. Four hours of rain a day.) That would be miserable. Horrible. Torturous. So I guess having just two days of solstices a year is a good thing.

Still. I cannot help but think that the summer solstice is a bittersweet day. Yes, it is the longest day of the year, but its coming means that the days are getting shorter. Those days of anticipation when the sun is shining longer are coming to a close. They are in the past. Now, we just have shorter days. And they will keep getting shorter for another six months.

Of course, it is not a good thing to dread the future. Just like it is a terrible thing to dwell on the past. After all, the past has passed. And the future is yet to come. So we ought to relish each moment as it arrives. We need to be present in the present. After all, the present is a present. A gift wrapped in sunshine. Or rain. Or snow. Or… Well, you get the picture. The present is a wonderful present and we need to be present to fully enjoy it.

Yes, the summer solstice has passed for this year. The days are indeed getting shorter. But that is okay. For whether the weather is sunny or cloudy, or whether the days are getting shorter or longer, does not really matter. What really matters is that we are present in the present.

So embrace today while it is called today. Even if today is shorter than yesterday.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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No More Satire · 26 June 2021

I would like to make a modest proposal. (Something like Jonathan Swift wrote in 1729.)

My modest proposal is that we get rid of satire. Seriously. We do not need satire. After all, satire just confuses people. Whether the satire is verbal or written, it comes out wrong. People misinterpret it. And more infuriating, people take satire out of context to prove their points. So we ought to just get rid of satire so people can know for sure what people are saying.

You are not alone if you are wondering what satire is in the first place. After all, there are people who do not get satire. They take everything literally. Literally. They take literally everything literally. They call these people literalists. And so we must protect these literalists from the satirists.

So what is satire? Satire is saying the opposite of what you mean in order to say what you really mean. The definition itself gives us pause. Think about it. If you are going to say something, just say it. Whether by mouth or by pen, you should say what you mean all the time. Why would you want to say the opposite of what you mean? What is the point of that?

Well, a satirist would certainly say that sometimes you say the opposite of what you mean because it comes out better that way. Or the point is clearer. Or the absurdity of the satirical premise is so absurd that the meaning is obvious. Or something like that.

Take Jonathan Swift’s essay. He proposed that the way to end famine was to eat the children. Was he proposing cannibalism as a way to feed the people? Of course not. He was especially not trying to get people to eat their own children. Which is the point. There must be some practical way to feed starving people. Having them eat their own children is ludicrous. Insane. The point is clear. Do not feed starving people their own children. After all, it did not work in the past, why would it in the present.

The literalist would say that Jonathan Swift was off his rocker. Swift would surely be considered loony by anybody’s standards. At least if his proposal was taken seriously instead of the satire it was meant to be. But that is the point of getting rid of satire. He should have just written what he meant. He should have said that there are more ways to feed the hungry than just eating children. He should have said what he meant and meant what he said.

By the way. There are people other than just literalists who take everything literally. The gullible and the slow. I ought to know. I am both. When people ask if I want to buy a bridge, I ask, “How much?” When they say my picture is in the dictionary under gullible, I look. And it takes me two to five times longer than everybody else to get even the simplest joke. You need to remind me again and again why the chicken crossed the road.

Gullible. Slow. That is me. Which is why I would be all for getting rid of satire. And while we are at it, we may as well get rid of jokes too. I do not get them anyway, so why tell them? I am sure there are others like me. Those who need an interpreter to understand even the simplest jokes. Those who sit there dumbfounded while everybody else is laughing. “I don’t get it,” is something that gets me laughs even though it is not what I am after when I say it. After all, I really do not get it. (They usually laugh harder when I say that.)

Well there you have it. My modest proposal. We need to just tell it like it is. Plain and simple. So let’s just get rid of satire. And while we are at it, let’s get rid of jokes too.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Itty Bitty Bird Bullies · 19 June 2021

I am always amazed when I see little birds picking on big birds.

I was watching a bald eagle fly over the basketball court near my house one day. It was a day with clear blue skies, and the eagle was riding the thermals. Just soaring. Just minding its own business. The eagle seemed quite a ways up there.

Then, this little bird came into my field of view. It was flapping its wings like crazy. Like it had to get somewhere fast. It was gaining altitude quickly. It was still mostly in my peripheral vision, but then it hit me. That little bird was going to go after the eagle.

If you have never seen little birds pick on big birds, you would be amazed. Certainly surprised. I have seen it happen time and again. The larger bird is minding its own business when all of a sudden one or more itty bitty birds starts to pick on it. The big and little birds go into an aerial ballet of sorts. Weaving and bobbing. Doing all sorts of looping and stalling. It is the air show of all air shows. Something to behold.

Well on the particular day I saw them, these two birds were not really showing off their flying prowess. They were just being a bit standoffish. I only saw one or two loop de loops. And unlike several of the aerial combat shows that I have seen between big and little birds, this particular one was mild and short-lived.

But it got me thinking. (I know. That can be dangerous.) And wondering.

I have always wondered why those aerial combat shows do not end with the itty bitty bird being big bird food. Think about it. All that eagle or hawk or other taloned bird would need to do is reach out those talons and that little itty bitty bird would be snack food for the babies back home. I suppose that the little birds can maneuver better than the larger birds, but I do not know. It seems that every bird can turn on a dime in the air. So I have always wondered why the large predatory birds do not just gobble up the little pests.

That was when I realized. The little birds, the itty bitty birds, the pesky peeper birds are just bullies. We think that they are protecting their young ones from the big bad raptors, but they just want to pick on the larger birds. Those little birds just want to show the other birds that they are tough.

And those large birds, those predatory birds, those taloned birds? They are just the gentle giants minding their own business. Their mammas told them that they are bigger than the other birds so they should just turn the other cheek and not worry about the little birds. Even if they could be a little snack.

I know. It is not a good thing to personify animals. (The technical and literary term is called anthropomorphism. Use it in a conversation sometime. Outside of English class. Anthropomorphism.) After all, animals are most likely not thinking those thoughts. Those taloned birds’ mammas did not really tell them to not pick on the little birds. But it is fun to think of them that way. After all, we all know gentle giants whose mammas did tell them to not pick on the little guy. And we all know little bullies.

I do not know the real reason that eagles and hawks do not just pluck those pesky little birds out of the sky. I do not really know why those itty bitty birds seem to pick on the big bad birds flying so high in the sky. All I know is that it seems to me the outcome ought to be different. Or even the beginning ought to be different.

Then again, maybe the big bad bird soaring in the sky really is eyeing the little bird’s offspring as possible prey. Maybe the little bird really is just trying to protect its young ones. I do not really know. All I know is what I see. And what I see is itty bitty birds picking on big birds with sharp talons. I am always amazed at the sight.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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