And meteors fright the fixèd stars of heaven. The pale-faced moon looks bloggy on the earth

Konnichiwa and ohaiyou gozaimasu.  It’s Thursday again, and so it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I don’t really have much to report this week.  Of course, Hanukkah is over, and I hope those of you who observed it had a nice time and got to spend a few celebratory moments with family and/or friends.  Now we have a bit of a watchful peace, so to speak, before the arrival of Christmas and New Year.  I think there are other holidays in there as well, but I don’t know nearly as much about them as the others, and I’m not going to try to pretend that I do.

It all really centers around the coming Winter Solstice*, which even people a long time ago realized was the turning point of the year, when days started getting longer again after shortening for the previous six months.  This seemed like a sensible cause to celebrate.  Also, it was probably good just to try to keep everyone’s spirits up as much as possible, especially for those who lived relatively far north, where many Christmas decorations and customs take origin.

And, of course, for anyone who is seasonally affected, the knowledge that daylight will soon start increasing might provide some modest comfort, though given the lag time in both the onset and the regression of seasonal mood disorders, the turnaround for such people** probably won’t be noticeable for quite a while, assuming they survive.

I wonder if anyone has done a statistical study charting the average mood course of such people across the months.  Presumably, it would be in a sinusoidal pattern, but offset from the sinusoidal pattern of the changing of the length of days.  For someone who is in the throes of the worst of seasonal affective disorder—perhaps complicating other mood disorders—it might be at least some comfort to know that the fact that their mood doesn’t turn around right when the day changes is normal, and to have at least an estimate or a forecast for when the average sufferer tends to notice improvement.  Or maybe that’s just my kind of mindset, and most people wouldn’t really care.

My work on Outlaw’s Mind has been proceeding decently this week—about five thousand words in the last four writing days, though I did not write on Saturday or Sunday.  I just finished a horrifying and possibly frightening dream sequence which presages more momentous things to come.  These will start, perhaps, to make the main character wonder if the matters that trouble him really are merely in his mind, or if they have some reality of their own.  Whether he’ll ever know the truth is not yet clear.  At least my enthusiasm for the story has mostly recovered, and I look forward to its development.

I haven’t done any handwritten work on anything, though my clipboard with notebook paper sits always nearby during the workday.  That’s okay.  I don’t really want to get sidetracked from my main project, not unless I feel the strong urge to write more than one piece.  If I didn’t have a day job, maybe I would do that, but such a job I have and need, so that’s a moot point.  Of course, the argument could be quite convincingly made that all points are moot points.  But there can be interest and intellectual engagement even in moot points, after all.

While walking into a convenience store early this morning, I saw an unusually prominent meteor streak down the sky, much brighter and longer than most that I’ve seen, with a flame trail that also seemed to last longer than the vast majority do.  It was quite striking*** and remarkable.  Despite its relative duration, though, it came and went in a second only, perhaps only a pebble or smaller, burning up upon entering the atmosphere, such as has been used by songwriters and other artists, quite aptly, as a metaphor for any individual life.

But on the Planck scale, of course, the process of a meteor entering and burning up in the atmosphere contains a ridiculous number of moments, and an indescribable number of interactions between uncountably many elementary particles.  A human life is vastly greater still, astonishingly and mind-bogglingly complex and intricate.  And on a logarithmic scale, from the Planck time on up, a typical human lifespan is nearly as long as the life of our universe so far.

Of course, on the scale of the expected “lifespan” of a supermassive black hole****, the duration of time since the Big Bang is as vanishingly evanescent as the light of any meteor…or the light of, say, a spark rising from a burning log in a fireplace around which a family might sit, sipping warm beverages and warding off the winter cold.  It’s all a matter of scale and perspective.  Compared to eternity, any finite length of time is unreasonably close to and all but indistinguishable from zero.

I hope you’re all making the most of it, as best you can.



*In the northern hemisphere, of course.  In the southern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice approaches, and if most civilizations had taken root in that southern realm, I suppose we might have most of our big deal holidays around the end of June and might even start our new year around that time.  And indeed, what is now south might be our “north”.

**He says this as though it is merely theoretical, or as though it’s a clinical assessment of other people, having no personal bearing on him.  He also refers to himself in third person.

***Though it almost certainly did not strike the ground.

****For instance.

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