Sunday, December 21, 2014

Shortest Day

Stonehenge winter solstice 2012
Photograph by Mike Peel CC
Today is the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter. The day with the smallest amount of daylight and the longest period of darkness. Of course, that's just for us here in the Northern Hemisphere. If you're reading this south of the Equator, your winter solstice is six months from now, in June.

Oddly enough, I never really thought of that. I mean I've known since I was a wee lad that when it is winter in North America, it's summer in South America. But I never really knew that the solstices were reversed. I suppose that if I had thought about it, I would have figured it out. So thanks to Wikipedia, now I know.

Now I'm sure that my Celtic (pronounced "kell-tick", not "sell-tick", thank you very much, one is a culture, t'other is a basketball team, though without Rondo, I don't much care...) ancestors would have made a much bigger deal over this, being pagans and all. It wasn't until the Church (very cleverly) associated the birth of Our Savior with the winter solstice that we received our modern Christmas traditions.

That latter bit is something one of my colleagues at work has found endlessly fascinating over the past two weeks. He's an engineer, they don't get out much and don't really have the benefit of a classical education. But that's a post for another time. Something that spent most of last night rolling around in my head. Really.

I mean you would not believe the stuff that goes on inside my head.

Last night I dreamed of three absolutely brilliant posts to entertain you all with. Unfortunately, when I woke up, I had forgotten one, another made absolutely no sense whatsoever and the third involves being an "engineer." (That last bit is in quotes for a reason, which may or may not become clear later on this week. When I flesh that third "dream post" out.)

Now where was I?

Ah, the solstice. I'm not really sure what weird rituals my ancestors engaged in around the winter solstice. I'm sure it involved oak trees, chanting, bonfires and Druids. Makes me glad I live in modern times.

Though having a bonfire, quaffing a flagon (or three) of some strong beverage and howling at the moon is somewhat appealing, it is bloody cold outside at this time of year. (Now I'm not saying that I did any of that dancing around a bonfire, quaffing and howling as a youth, well, actually yes, I am saying exactly that. Seems I went through a bit of a Viking period in my youth. While we didn't go raiding villages or anything, we were known to gather deep in the woods, build bonfires and drink rather copious quantities of mead. If the moon was out, we'd howl at it. Otherwise we mostly listened to Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and other bands of that ilk. Good times... Hhmm, bit of a digression there, neh?)

So it's the winter solstice, the days will start getting longer now until June. When we get to do the whole summer solstice thing up here in the Northern Hemisphere and those folks south of the equator do the winter thing, which we do today.


New Topic, NOT a Digression...

For those of you not paying attention, Buck has joined the Pantheon at the top of the blog. Something I had planned to do but which shipmate Glenn rather prodded me into doing sooner. Rather than later.

Now Buck has always been featured on the starboard rail as my 先生 (sensei) or teacher (more along the lines of a mentor). I thought about using that picture.

Then I went searching his blog for a picture of Buck in uniform. Nothing was, I felt, suitable. Buck was different. While he was a retired Master Sergeant, he was also more of a free spirit than I. (In his retirement photo, he desperately needs a haircut! But that's just me. I was always jealous of Buck's full head of hair. Those who go bald... Well, I'll leave it at that.)


The photo that Buck's oldest sons (SN1 and SN2) posted on the Last Call post seemed to show Buck's personality very well. So I "borrowed" a piece of that photo for the Pantheon.

Buck has "gone west." I picture him with a mo'sickle between his legs, a fat cigar in his mouth and a devilish grin on his face. He'll never be "gone."

He's out there, roaring down some mountain road, looking for adventure and thinking of how he will tell us that story.

My God, but I miss him.

Now I have to go check and make sure my grammar and spelling are good and that all the damn commas and periods are where they're supposed to be. Just because Buck isn't with us, doesn't mean I can start slacking off now does it?

It's always sumthin'.


  1. Sadly, our personnel Pantheon list just keeps getting longer.

  2. Tomorrow is a grandaughter's birthday. I've always regarded it as the beginning of brighter days.

    1. Ah, now THAT is special. I cherish my grandchildren.

  3. The new header looks good Sarge; sad but good.

  4. It is the shortest day, but I've always looked at it as the longest night.
    Someone posted a link on F/B claiming it was the longest night ever, but by the time I got there it's been corrected to 1972 having the longest night ever.
    Talk about messing up a topic for a blog post.

    " would not believe the stuff that goes on inside my head."
    That's my line.

    "My God, but I miss him."
    There's gonna be another big hole in my day, too.

  5. Buck's picture looks good up there.

  6. "Buck has "gone west." I picture him with a mo'sickle between his legs, a fat cigar in his mouth and a devilish grin on his face. He'll never be "gone."

    For some reason, Born to be wild starts playing in my mind when I read that.

  7. Buck looks good up thar. Never fear...the Grammar Police live on. To Protect and Correct!


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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