It Is Spring

It Is Spring

Spring came this morning, and I checked the sunset last night to see the big orange ball approaching equinox—that’s when the sun appears to center on the Earth’s equator, so the lengths of the day and of the night are roughly equal. What I look for is the sun rising due east on the horizon and setting due west on the horizon. Last night I bicycled onto the Lake Street Bridge that crosses the Mississippi River, elevated so that I could see miles down Lake Street, which runs East to West across Minneapolis. If the sun sets right on Lake Street, then we have equinox.

Is this what they did at Stonehenge? Watch the sun hit a precise point at a certain time across  a set formation, or wait for its rays to strike a light on a certain mark on the wall. Luckily, I have science to inform me on how these things work, and I don’t have to guess or estimate how it happens each year.

Realizing it was going to be Spring today, and with it being sunny outside last night, I hopped on my bike as the sun dropped low in the sky to go see the sunset hit my mark. You see I’m just not much of a morning person, so night time is the right time for me. Good enough!

What matters most is the ritual. I may not always make it, and it may sometimes be cloudy, but spring or fall it’s pretty much the same. Let’s hop on that bike, and let’s go see the sun hit Lake Street. It doesn’t matter if I make it or not, though it’s still a duty of sorts—someone has to watch these things and not only scientists. Do others around this world of billions of people go to some special place to watch this biannual event at sunrise or sunset on the equinox?

I sure hope so. We can never forget that humans need to observe how we interact with the world around us, with the sun, planets and the stars, and with the cosmos from which we emerged and that we go back into to glean some wisdom about it all. I’m not a religious person, so maybe it’s even more important to find that connection, stopping normal life, waiting and watching for a sign.

On August 21st this year a total solar eclipse will be viewable on a narrow path across the United States. If you want to be able to look straight up into the sky throwing off your dark glasses and see the corona glowing around the shadow of the moon as the stars and planets pop out in the deep blue of the midday sky, you’ll have to find a special place to do that.

Somewhere, I’ll be there.

It Might As Well Be Spring

It Might As Well Be Spring

kmsp201702tempsHere in Minneapolis, Minnesota we just experienced a winter thaw and heat wave with five record-setting high temperatures over the past week all the way up to 62ºF!

Climate change is real, as you can see in the graph, and I can’t remember an absolute thaw of all snow and ice in midwinter like this one. While I’m happy that I’m not out shoveling snow, some friends are not so happy they haven’t enjoyed much cross-country skiing this season.

Another guilty pleasure is realizing that the heating expenses for my property will go down. I happened to leave the thermostat setting off recently while away on a short overnight stay. When I came back the next morning, the temperature was a comfortable 64ºF in my apartment, and my tenant’s apartment on the second floor is typically a bit warmer, so probably stayed at room temperature up there. IN THE MIDDLE OF FEBRUARY!

Before I acquired and fixed up my Longfellow Villa property, I was in a little apartment for six months, and there were some problems there. One week I had almost no heat in near-zero weather, and the apartment management wasn’t doing much to fix it. When it went into the 50ºs for a few days, I’d turn on the oven and run a hot shower with the bathroom door open. That was crazy, and barely liveable. Now I have a nice forced-air HVAC system with an older furnace, new central air, and humidifiers in both apartments, and we’re always comfortable.

Skarjune with bike and squirrel

It hit 62ºF on Tuesday, and I took a long walk around the neighborhood. It was again sunny and warm on Wednesday with 59ºF, so I had to get my bicycle out of storage, pump up the tires, adjust a few things, and I took my first bike ride of the season. I don’t winter bike, since that triggers a little asthma, but I’ve been exercising on bike and elliptical machines at the Y, and ready to go.

What a feeling! Cranking through the city with pedal power is my favorite mode of transportation. I do drive my old truck around, but since I work out of my home office, the morning commute is from bed to coffeepot to computer in my pajamas. Getting out of the house by Noon for a walk or ride is an important part of my daily schedule, but in the winter, I get stuck in the house all day sometimes.

Not this year. There’s a giant snowstorm with blizzard conditions blowing across the Midwestern states today, and we had an early forecast of 6-12 inches of snow for Minneapolis. But, it’s stayed south as it didn’t have enough climate Umph to head North, where snowstorms normally like to play havoc. As I look out my window, it’s a dull gray cool day, but not a flake of snow, nor drop of rain, nor any sleet in between.

This is not normal. Officially, Spring begins on March 20, but…

It Might As Well Be Spring!

“It Might as Well Be Spring” is a song from the 1945 film State Fair, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year and was the only original film score by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The 1945 musical film was an adaptation of a 1933 version that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The 1962 remake of State Fair starred Pamela Tiffin as Margy Frake who sings “It Might as Well Be Spring.” But her costar Ann-Margret sang a captivating version of “It Might As Well Be Spring” for her 1961 screen test for State Fair, backed by a simple lounge quartet.

I’d say that I had spring fever,
But I know it isn’t spring.
I’m starry-eyed and vaguely discontented…

I am indeed vaguely discontented and starry-eyed too! Now that’s a different story that I won’t tell just yet. Sometimes the stars in my eyes are just hallucinations of what could be but may not ever come to pass. Still, my discontent drives positive change. So, if you are experiencing any spring fever, don’t despair. Climate change and personal change are real, as the planet evolves, while people mature and pivot.

I haven’t seen a crocus or a rosebud
Or a robin on the wing.
But I feel so gay…
That it might as well be spring

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

Seems like the whole wide world is changing, and some people are freaked out by the news, the fake news, the divisions of people, and the challenges of our own lives. Even the climate is changing and the arctic caps melting! While I can’t explain it all, I can say that I’m not surprised—after all, anybody who knows or has known me has probably wondered: What the heck does Skarjune think he’s doing now?

I’ve been an introvert, nerd, hippie, waiter, bartender, cabbie, teacher, photographer, journalist, art critic, consultant, lover, X-lover, husband, X-husband, loyal staffer, X-staffer, and the list goes on. But I didn’t mean to go off and bore you with my life story.

So, as with SNL’s Mary Katherine Gallagher, my feelings might be best expressed with a monologue of sorts, in my case, a classic by the late David Bowie:

deadend-children-at-playI still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Turn and face the strange)

Bowie’s “Changes” still rings true today as the world waffles between an inclusive global society and a plutocracy of leaders, lords, and warlords. Hey, I’m not here to dive into politics, just hoping to share a glimpse of how I see a way forward, at least for myself.

Think Global—Act Local

A few years ago I needed to pack up and move somewhere else, as a 20-year era of my life came to a close. I was looking for a new home for almost a year, but I didn’t find one and had two real estate deals go south. For six months I transitioned with a storage unit, a small apartment, and a little shared studio for work. That was an odd time and a lovely time—learning to sleep with earplugs as neighbors blasted video games all night, and exploring new neighborhoods in the city away from my old neighborhood.

LongfellowDotLifePost12x18.pngI landed in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis in an abandoned fixer-upper duplex that I transformed into my home, home office, and my B&B business Longfellow Villa catering to professionals in transition (hmm…how did I get that idea…). As I explored my new neighborhood I got involved with local groups, volunteering at my library, working with a group of artists to create a new website for the LoLa Art Crawl, and joining the board of Longfellow Community Council to work on other local projects. Now I’m slowing building a neighborhood directory with my Longfellow.Life project to share all the great things available in our local area.

I feel good about my neighborhood, but what about the whole global hairball? I’m lucky. Even though I’ve lost friends, lovers, and wives during my lifetime, as well as jobs, homes, and dreams, I got lucky with something big, bigger than me, bigger than any one person: WordPress, the free web software that runs 27% of the world wide web.

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While I still work as an independent consultant, mostly on small local projects, I’m empowered by and contribute to a gigantic global team of programmers, designers, developers, content creators, marketers, and industry leaders who make WordPress and the web happen. Our mission is simple:

Democratize publishing through Open Source, GPL software

OK, not so simple, it gets way complex, but the goal speaks for itself. Beyond the political wars of democracy and the real wars apart from democracy, our software makes it possible for anyone to publish online with many of the same tools now used by Fortune 500 companies including TIME, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, and so many more.

So I turned myself to face me, what do I see?

Just another guy in the ‘hood doing what he can to get along with and help neighbors. And, when I log on to my computer or launch an app on my smart phone, I see into an inclusive global community that shows me what we all can accomplish together. What I can be is guided by what I can see, and I’m seeing how my local acts and global views can come closer together.

Welcome to WordPress in 2017

Welcome to WordPress in 2017

Welcome to my WordPress blog for 2017. While I’ve long had a professional website for my consulting business at WordImage.com, this is my personal website where family, friends, acquaintances, and associates can follow me. AND, this free WordPress blog is my replacement for Facebook, which I’m leaving after a short transition here.

I hope that you’ll Follow Me as a WordPress user or bookmark this page to get regular updates about me: David Skarjune. I’ll add more ways to interact, just leave a Comment at the bottom of this post, if you want to keep in touch, or need some help with that. I won’t be pontificating on the news and politics, I won’t be selling you stuff, and I won’t dive into deep tech topics. I’ll just post short stories about my life and times, a simple timeline with everyday stuff, a little like what Facebook used to be. But first, let me make clear why I’ve moved away from Facebook, and why you too should consider leaving.

Why?

The world wide web was built as a freely distributed global network in 1991, and over the past 26 years it’s become a primary communications channel for most people on the planet, along with other communications systems using the Internet. Now, half the world’s population has access to the Internet and the web, and the numbers continue to grow. The Internet and web are a common utility, such that no matter what carrier or device you happen to have, you have access to an enormous range of information and systems. It’s important to keep this free network open and active.

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Except!

The power and reach of the Internet and web is fantastic, except for the growing problems that threaten the basic concept of a network that allows for the free expression and distribution of information. Censorship, Control, Ownership, and Propaganda threaten the very nature of this critical medium, which is Freedom. Rather than argue against how everybody’s on Facebook and you can’t fight that along with all the fake news and endless ads, I’ll just remind that America Online was once the same thing—a walled garden that controlled your web experience apart from the rest of the world wide web, which is free and open.

Free?

No, Internet access is not free, nor are smart phones. When we consider the Freedom provided by the Internet and web we say:

Free as in Speech, not as in Beer!

fwd-pint-of-beer-for-beijing-creamThe Internet and web rely upon Free Software, thanks to a visionary named Richard Stallman who created a movement with the GNU General Public License (GPL) in 1989, as the web was being invented, that redefined how software could be licensed and distributed. Think about the free songs you get on the web, the free videos you watch, the free services you can try out—and then thank the day the Stallman decided to turn the Internet on it’s head to provide a path to the future we enjoy today.

Let’s Go!

You can join this movement right now, for free! Just visit WordPress.com and click Get Started for a free account and you’ll be blogging on the World Wide Web in short order. Disclaimer: I’m a proud contributor to the WordPress project, and we run 27% of the web with our free Open Source software—not just the blogs here at WordPress.com, but some of the biggest websites in the world including Time, New York Post, Fortune, Rolling Stone, and many others are powered by WordPress software.

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You say you prefer Twitter or Instagram or whatever social media works for you? No problem, WordPress can embed them, and WordPress plays well when reposted on other systems. Why just jump to my Twitter feed on the left, and you see what I mean.