Aiki Haikus

Aiki means to have
Harmony with nature and
Full relaxation.

Keeping one-point is
Awareness of centering;
Stay in good balance.

Settling down in
Union with gravity blends
Stable with agile.

Letting your ki flow:
Manifest energy and
Personality!

Best self-defense is
By winning without fighting,
Blending with forces.

Fighting is right if
It leads combatants into
Peaceful harmony.

Moral behavior
With least force necessary
Leaves no injuries.

Kengis and jogis
Make good use of wood, as in
Self-defense katas.

Kenjutsu is the
Art of the samurai, so
Let’s shout a kiai!

Haiku Tommy

Tsunami Tommy
Can bark like a thunderstorm.
My tinnitus grows.

Shrill are the sound waves
That crash upon my eardrums
From canine wild child.

His sharp teeth nibble
My flesh, play and affection
Now more than violence.

Truth about Tommy?
He’s lovable through and through,
Sweet and loyal too.

Food for Thought

Beans and franks, they can’t
Be beat. Nutritional, no,
But tasty to eat!

Breakfast cereals –
Layers of carbs, fiber, and
Sugar with milk. Yum!

Veggies and fruits can
Give you the toots and good health
Right down to your roots.

Wholesome foods fuel the
Body and mind alike; eat right
Each and every bite.

What greater pleasure
Exists for your mood than the
Taste of gourmet food?

Roaming & Rhyming

A quick search via Google shows that our planet rotates at 1,000 miles per hour and revolves around the sun at a speed of 67,000 mph, while our whole solar system is revolving around the Milky Way galaxy at a rate of 490,000 mph.  We earthlings amazingly stay on balance despite those movements (thanks, gravity!), yet we change in various ways in keeping with the motions of the universe.  Are our natural changes fruitful and appreciative of life on our precious garden planet?  Yes, to some degree, but people also engage in petty quarrels, jealousies, rivalries, confrontations, and outright wars.  Can’t human beings simply feel how great it is to be alive?  Can’t we attain international, inter-racial harmony and make the most of our miraculous existence?  Alas, nature includes disagreements, inequities, and struggles for supremacy in our dog-eat-dog world.  How sad.  World peace should be a realistic goal, not an unattainable ideal.  We should be grateful for our fast-moving planet.  Let’s cooperate to cope not only with the Coronavirus pandemic, but also with the dreadful consequences of climate change caused by human life.  

The Coronavirus has gone viral;
It can put you into a death spiral.
If it came with some music
It might be like jazz that
Sounds like it’s old Spiro Gyral.

2021 is the year just begun
When we all hope to have some more fun.
With distance and masks
We’re left with the tasks
To create some play better than none.

Might this be the winter of our discontent?
Could now be the time we regret and resent?
Try to make the best
Of this situation lest
We feel worse about how our life’s spent.

From animal shelters it’s rained dogs and cats,
To live in our homes and keep them clear of rats.
We love our dear pets
Despite our debts to vets,
And they are cuter than vampire bats and gnats.

How are we doing on New Year’s resolutions?
Have we accomplished personal revolutions?
To change for the better
Just be less a fretter;
Forget about Dr. Jim’s circumlocutions.

Happier New Year

In their dynamic song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, The Who sing, “Meet the old boss: Same as the old boss.”  So far at least, 2021 is looking and feeling very much the same as 2020.  The Covid-19 pandemic is raging.  For the sake of risk management, we’re wearing face masks, observing social distance, washing our hands, and minimizing indoor time among others.  Takeaway food outweighs in-restaurant dining.  Sporting events may or may not be contested.  In-person entertainment is minimal.  School attendance is variable.  Travel remains sharply curtailed.  The political scene remains polarized and unsettled.  Overall, we seem to be spinning our wheels, stuck in unwelcome circumstances.  

However, as Bob Dylan sings, “The Times They Are A-Changin’”.  Everything in the universe is in constant motion, with some changes that are rapid and others that are imperceptibly slow.  The world turns.  Waters flow, plants and animals grow, and humans are impelled to move and learn.  Evolution happens.  We continue to crave freedom and plan to resume our “normal” lifestyles as soon as vaccines and other scientific remedies permit our doing so safely. 

2020 was not an entirely bad year, and we all know examples of its positive features.  Yet we’d surely like 2021 to offer improvement over our present conditions.  Let’s take positive action individually and wait patiently for the societal status to improve. 

Personally, my novel (Holy Rollers) will be officially published and widely available on 1/5/21.  As the situation warrants, I will drum in The Island Band, roll into more aikido training, confer with clients indoors and outside, and perhaps try to rejuvenate my golf game.  Travel is on the agenda with the intent of interacting with family and friends as well as seeing the sights.  And maybe I will periodically write segments for this blog.  

Have a healthy, harmonious, and maybe happier 2021!  

Rolling Along

Rolling Out

I hope you don’t think I’m a schnook
For publishing another book.
I hope that you’ll ponder
To bookstore a wander
To add it to your reading nook.

Holy Rollers is now out for sale,
A suspenseful yet amusing tale.
You’ll read about guys
And gals with some surprise,
With our heroes on the bad guys’ trail.

With an official publication date of 1/5/21, Holy Rollers is already available via Mascot Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and presumably other booksellers as distributed by Mascot, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram. Crime fiction is the primary genre, but themes of golf, psychology, aikido, romance, action, and humor swirl among the main, sinister plot. I hope that readers enjoy this bit of “edutainment”, learning a few things and smiling along the way. I’ll be planning book launching and/or signing events for 2021, by Zoom if not in person. Reader reviews and feedback would be welcomed.

May Biden Abide!

Our people have spoken, the votes have been totaled, and it’s time for a new President,
Who will correct the direction the US may take, and forget Mister Trump came and went.
Our nation is hurtin’, that much is for certain, our values and morals got bent.
It’s time for a shift for democracy’s sake, for an honest and sane government.

The season has dawned for a good climate change, not the kind that is killing the Earth;
The weather in DC has been boiling hot, temperamental, and without true mirth.
We’ll see if Joe can deliver the goods, and prove his and Kamala’s worth.
Government of, by, and for the people is what we could witness rebirth.

‘Tis the Season

There soon will be some wintry storms
That whiten our houses and dorms.
We’ll bring out our skis, skates,
And snowboards galore,
Until next spring weather re-warms.

Christmas and New Year’s will soon
Bring us cheer after viral gloom.
With gaiters and masks
On for holiday tasks,
We won’t let Covid bring us doom.

Let’s greet changing times with an eye toward success,
No matter the weather just dress for less stress
Get outdoors each day
For some natural light,
Then get cozy indoors for the dark night’s caress.

Election Selection

It’s time to plan to cast your vote;

Your right to choose is still afloat.

Grab ID and coat,

Go by car or by boat,

And don’t help a fascist to triumph and gloat.

My novel, Holy Rollers, is nearing its official publication date. In the meantime, here’s what one reader had to say about it:

“Holy Rollers is fun mix of murder mystery, social satire, and insights into the practices of aikido, psychotherapy, and golf.  Jim Wallace knows his stuff, and the book is a breezy take on the extremes to which a fundamentalist group is capable of going—including murder—in an effort to promote its unholy agenda. Good thing the dynamic duo, Max and Mitch, the novel’s ever-joking heroes, are around to match the mayhem and to roll with all the surprises.”

—Peter Fortunato, author of Carnevale

The book is now for sale at this link:

Two Shades of Gray?


The Dark Ages were medieval times of relative misery and woe, with economic hardships and intellectual gaps blanketed by the Black Plague. We seem to have slipped back into those unenlightened times in our country the past several years, with scientific knowledge and civility being overshadowed by the modern-day threats of Covid-19 and fascism. The brightness of yang has circled into the dim world of yin, into a battle for control between polarized political camps. Despite the incidental improvement in air quality associated by less traffic worldwide in the midst of the viral threat, our natural environment has been under near-constant attack by our administrators in Washington, DC. Pure water, clean air, abundant wildlife, species diversity, and available green spaces enhance and sustain human life; anything not man-made and not money-making is not the enemy. The diverse citizenry of our country is not the enemy either, though a power-hungry core of authority figures wish disrespect, disenfranchisement, and even harm to countless Americans.

When will our national and global conditions improve? Partly when medical science develops an effective deterrent (vaccine and treatment) against the Coronavirus. Perhaps more importantly, there could be a cleansing of the political air if a new federal administration could be elected to replace the presently corrupt mismanagement team. Vote! It would also help if human beings could collectively wise up to the realization that we could all get along better, within our borders and around the globe, with more harmony and less fear, with an attitude of kindness toward humankind, and with cooperation to protect the lives and well-being of most plants and animals as well as humans. It’s good to have money; it’s better to have a healthy planet on which to spend it.

Our nation is under duress;
Each person must deal with much stress.
Here’s hoping we’re coping
And not merely moping,
Electing leaders who impress.

Don’t settle for less than the truth,
Or a dictator truly uncouth.
Our world deserves better,
Like an honest go-getter,
So choose right when you’re in voting booth.

Holy Rollers

Holy guacamole! My first novel, Holy Rollers, has hit the printing press and will soon be distributed by Mascot Books, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram. Widespread availability will include amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (bookstores & online), Books-a-Million, Chapters Indigo, the Colgate Bookstore, select local shops (inquire for specific store), and yours truly. Your feedback and reviews would be welcomed. I will be available for book signing events when the pandemic abates and sites permit, probably in 2021.

Years in the making, Holy Rollers is a story of crime fiction (serial killings) with crossover themes such as golf, psychology, aikido, action, romance, and humor. My intent in writing this story has been to entertain and educate, to express myself and make readers smile. It may not be a masterpiece that gets nominated for the Pulitzer or Nobel Prize, but I think that you might enjoy reading it.

I’ll post an update when the book actually hits the marketplace. Until then (and beyond), let’s practice safe socializing and healthy living.

Paradoxical Features of Alcohol Consumption

We’ve been living with the Coronavirus Pandemic for several months now. In pursuit of public health and safety, in order to curb the spread of the menacing disease, much of American and international society has endured a lockdown of numerous ”non-essential” businesses, services, and institutions. Among the essential businesses still open have been liquor stores. Americans need booze. This essay does not argue one way or the other whether alcoholic beverages should remain fully available when many other types of commerce have been suspended. Rather, this is an examination of some aspects of adult beverages that appear paradoxical, seemingly contradictory factors that may be challenging to reconcile, as we deem alcoholic drinks to be necessary products in our society.

• The alcohol we consume in the form of brewed beer, fermented wine, and/or distilled spirits, is metabolized rather than digested by our bodies. That is, such beverages are absorbed into the bloodstream rather than processed by the intestinal tract. While we may consider such drinks to be “medicinal” to some extent, they actually do damage to the liver that is the primary filter of toxins in the body; the stomach, pancreas, and brain do some of that metabolic processing, too. Medical authorities, on the other hand, have pointed to much scientific evidence that indicates health benefits (i.e., stress relief along with prevention of high blood pressure, heart disease, and maybe cancer) with intake of one to two alcoholic beverages per day.
• We tend to drink some alcoholic beverages, especially beer, in response to thirst. But all drinks that contain alcohol are diuretic, stimulating the body to shed water, and thus cause dehydration rather than proper fluid balance in the body. (Thus, it is a good idea to drink plenty of water which not only hydrates the body but also serves to flush the liver and repair damage to it.)
• People often say that they “need” a drink when they feel down or stressed; the mind-altering, sedative effect of alcohol tends to mask worries and woes, at least temporarily. Alas, alcohol is a central nervous depressant; not only might it intensify feelings of depression, but its aftermath leaves consumers relatively more tired (for 48-72 hours), perhaps hungover and headachy, and less able to think clearly to solve the problems that led to the bad mood in the first place.
• Adult beverages can serve as effective social lubricants. By depressing inhibitions, they free up the consumer to be more talkative and friendly, less shy and constrained, in interpersonal settings. Conversations and camaraderie flow better with alcoholic drinks. Unfortunately, more liberal tongue wagging can include some regrettable words, verbal faux pas, and spillage of perceptions and feelings that can be insulting and hurtful to others.
• Some drinkers tend to get obnoxious, angry, and confrontational under the influence of alcohol. Others may get happy, gregarious, and fun-loving. Some get sleepy. There are “hybrids” of these personality patterns, of course, but the main point is that temperaments may change in a fluid manner.
• Red wine has been touted as perhaps the healthiest of various alcoholic beverages. However, a number of people, especially adult females, do not tolerate red wine well; they suffer histamine intolerance and allergy-like symptoms. White wine or other options cause fewer adverse reactions.
• Although its health benefits are supported by research, we all know that alcohol is responsible for the legal infraction of driving under the influence (DUI). Crashes happen. Drinking is also associated with accidental deaths, familial arguments, domestic violence, vandalism, and a wide range of antisocial behaviors. Many people die as a direct, or indirect, result of intake of alcohol.
• In most countries of the world, the minimum legal age at which one may purchase alcoholic beverages is eighteen years old. In much of Canada, that age is nineteen, in Japan it’s twenty, and it’s twenty-one in the USA, Indonesia, and most of India (where it may be as high as twenty-five in some regions). But there is no minimum age, across nearly all nations, at which consumption of alcohol, in private and even in many public settings, is prohibited. Children and adolescents may drink at any age (except in predominately Islamic countries and Mormon areas); they just can’t buy those drinks.
• We may choose to drink because of a natural, innate drive to alter consciousness; humans like variety in their lives, including their mental processing and perception. Or we may be motivated to drink by social convention, peer pressure, advertising, the lure of the many flavors and colors to be consumed, and a wide range of man-made marketing contrivances.
• When people say or do certain things under the influence of alcohol, they often get excused for any rude or immoral behaviors. We may not be considered responsible for our actions because of altered perception and personality. Yet it’s possible that people are painfully honest and speak the unvarnished truth when disinhibited by alcohol. We are considered culpable for illegal or unethical deeds triggered by alcohol, or at least held accountable for consuming too much booze in the first place.
• Alcohol is an addictive substance; regular usage is accompanied by growing tolerance, habitual (often increasing) consumption, and withdrawal upon cessation. When a drinking problem is felt, diagnosed, or proven by the consequences of alcohol intake (e.g., chronically heavy drinking, periodic binging, antisocial behavior that damages property and relationships), an individual might best seek abstinence. An alcohol rehabilitation center may be necessary to aid the “drying out” process. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a famous organization that can help alcohol avoidance. Yet another option may be temperance, a moderate level of social drinking with a sense of self-control. Moderation.org is a source of such a program that can promote alcoholic self-regulation.

In recognition of the evils of alcohol, there was movement to ban liquor in the U.S. during the 19th century. Prohibition was later accomplished by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution which blocked the production, importation, transportation, and sale of intoxicating beverages in the country from 1920 to 1933. Americans, as we know, did not take well to that ban; it was violated by people in many ways. Since Prohibition was overturned, alcoholic beverages have flowed freely (well, for a price) in our country and across the globe. People like to drink. The advantages and enjoyment of consuming alcohol clearly outweigh the risks as far as humans are concerned. Adult beverages, in their myriad forms, are here to stay. Drink wisely.

Rhyme Time III

A Police Statement

Are cops rightful bosses over you and me?
Do the laws say that they may behave nastily?
To protect and serve
Takes admirable nerve
But they don’t have the right to act immorally.

Contentment

Happiness is a goal pursued by everyone
An elusive state that is never quite done
We think we’re there but here’s the way that it’s spun:
If we frown, we lose; if we smile, we’ve won.

We’re saddened by rain clouds but brightened by sun.
Tedium weighs us down, so we’re searching for fun.
Excited to eat yummy cinnamon bun,
We’re scared that it could soon make us weigh a ton.

With money we’re upbeat; we’re down when we’ve none.
We’re sad when it’s over, glad when fun’s begun.
And so, friends, a tangled web is what I’ve spun:
Want a string of good days? Just be happy with one!

COVID-19

There once was a coronavirus
Who struck out to sicken and tire us;
We did our right tasks
By oft’ wearing masks
So that bug couldn’t readily mire us.

Coronavirus:
Five syllables of danger.
Wellness beats illness!

Step Lively

Nature and wildlife enhance one’s life,
To walk among them minimizes the strife
Of the pressure and stress,
The strain and duress,
Of which our existence is often too rife.

When we walk the walk
And talk the talk, we have good
Coordination.

USA

Politicians rule
By immoral fists. Government
Of, by, for people?

And . . .

For an interesting and/or inspirational message daily, check out Jasmine Wallace’s blog at horsesandfairytales.tumblr.com. And don’t neglect to check Gary Larson’s thefarside.com.

Uncertainty

I wish that I could say for sure that what I write is true
About the huge uncertainty that bothers me and you.
Is Coronavirus strengthening or starting to decay?
When will it be safe to mingle with friends night and day?

Some think it’s a conspiracy, a hoax, and great big lie,
But evidence suggests that it’s real risk that folks do die
From exposure to the virus in unsafe social milieu
Where our masks and social distancing some careless folks eschew.

We all know we should wash our hands and keep our hands off face,
But the fear is so chaotic all across the human race.
Some of us are scared to death while others are blasé,
And our leaders can’t agree on the advice they have to say.

Fear of the unknown is an uncomfortable emotion
Yet we can’t see what’s ahead while adrift on this rough ocean.
At the same time we’re afraid we’re also bored out of our skulls,
And the jobless rate is making lives impoverished and dull.

The truth is no one can tell us about the future clear;
In fact we can’t go back to re-judge choices no more near.
Anxiety accompanies our lack of clarity;
We hope that God and Mother Nature show us charity.

So how should we behave when we can’t know what lies ahead?
Safety first and patience can reduce the risk you’re dead.
So must we face the future with an awful sense of dread?
No way! Make the most of today and eat your daily bread.

Walk. Appreciate nature. Breathe the cleaner air. Hug your loved ones near, and write to those afar. Connect online and on phone. Eat a healthy diet; take multivitamins as needed. Read. Wellness depends on common sense. Wear a mask and keep social distance as needed. Expect the best, though accept reality. And know that, according to Shel Silverstein (“True Story” in Where the Sidewalk Ends), things could be worse:

This morning I jumped on my horse
And went out for a ride.
And some wild outlaws chased me
And they shot me in the side.
So I crawled into a wildcat’s cave
To find a place to hide,
But some pirates found me sleeping there,
And soon they had me tied
To a pole and built a fire
Under me – I almost cried
Till a mermaid came and cut me loose
And begged to be my bride,
So I said I’d come back Wednesday
But I must admit I lied.
Then I ran into a jungle swamp
But I forgot my guide
And I stepped into some quicksand,
And no matter how I tried
I couldn’t get out, until I met
A water snake named Clyde,
Who pulled me to some cannibals
Who planned to have me fried.
But an eagle came and swooped me up
And through the air we flied,
But he dropped me in a boiling lake
A thousand miles wide.
And you’ll never guess what I did then –
I DIED.