Fragments: ’20 Week 12

So: this week, without embellishment or comment. Label me Otherwise Distracted. But still poking around and pecking the keys. — F1st

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Why The F (Word)

Catcher in the Rye used it five times. If you find an old copy in a second-hand book store, chances are some 12 year old (now 80-ish) underlined every instance. Back then, the f-word was outrageous; shocking; and hidden. And then, more often than not, it had to do directly with the sex act. But that curious 12 year old would have had his mouth washed out with soap–at the very least–had he uttered the word in public. “Ya kiss ya mutha with that mouth?!”

Hidden, because after rare and typically cryptic use in the sixteenth century, it was banned from english dictionaries from 1795 to 1965. I find it interesting that there was a word, even outside protestant and Puritan influence, that was deemed unbecoming to anyone who would use a dictionary and keep civil company. That was then. This is (f-ing) now.

So where did the word come from in the first place? That sleuthing is made more difficult because of the reluctance across the history of written language to write it out and to record its use by upstanding members of literate society. There are inaccurate stories that it originally came from a royal decree to repopulate after the plague: “Fornicate Under Command of the King.” Good story. Fake news. But maybe good advice for the survivors of Covid19. Eat. Drink. And make babies.

The best etymological roots seem to trace it to Scottish/Scandinavian roots, variously including fukka, focka and fock (penis.) Apart from the sexual use, it came to imply violence (hitting, punching, thrusting.) The combined “thrust” of the term to profane the act of procreation and, at the same time, imply ill-intentioned aggression, making it a perfect word for our moral-psycho-socially dysfunctional times, don’t you think?

There was a time not long ago when it was veiled and substituted as fork, pork, fug or eff/effing/effed. But the gloves are off now and it is released full-monty into the wild. Perhaps the high-density winner is the movie Wolf of Wallstreet where it was used every other breathe: a total of 506 times in a three hour movie. The script must have been tres-easy for the actors to remember. And if you forget a line, toss in some f’s as subjects, objects and epithets.

The word has morphed in the media and common vernacular of the past decades to be a much more versatile word by far than the original verb. Few words have so many different uses, often within the same sentence.

From Opinion: The f-word is everywhere – CNN

Think about it. It can express surprise, outrage, anger, humor, delight or desire. And it can stand in for several parts of speech: noun, verb (in any tense), gerund, participle, imperative, interrogative, interjection, to mention just the most common uses.

It can be quite a variety of speech bits: the verb, of course, as in f you, intended to imply obliterating, humiliating or otherwise damaging the intended subject. Then there are the prepositions: something or someone can be f’d up, f’d over or f’d around with. There is the flying f, from an 1800 ballad of sex on horseback.

It can be an adjective whose meaning is conferred by context, so that f-ing awesome and f-ing terrible both imply the extreme. As a noun, to not give a f means to disregard as trivial.

And perhaps the most unique use of the word is as an “infix” (as opposed to pre-and suff-ix) where the word comes in the middle. Consider for example the emphatic infix of “un-f’ing-believable.

It can be used as an interrogative as in What da f?

But any more, it is a space filler that may or may not be chosen for any of the above purposes, but because it comes to mind. My favorite story is this one:

During a trivia game at her assisted living home, she could not think of the name of Peter, Paul, and Mary's magic dragon, so she blurted: "F--- the Magic Dragon," which now has become the family's official title for the song.

You can find plenty of praise for the word, including being an antidote to the “poison of piety, fastidiousness and erudition” and “a way of defining character.” I just don’t care to watch or listen to such characters for more than a minute.

So I having accepted the fact that I can’t find many things on Netflix or elsewhere that do not accost my brain with extensive overuse of the word, I still don’t quite understand how other words, with long rich histories of use, could not as well express outrage, surprise, indignation or malice.

After the first dozen f-bombs, I will chose to take a walk instead. There is sufficient anger, violence, misogyny and racism in fact without having to have it brought into common language, veiled or overt. I tend to remove my attention and my advertising dollars from those that have no better way to draw and keep my attention.

“Let your yay be yay and your nay be nay” the Bible admonishes. Speak your mind without the theatric embellishments, brethren and sistren. So my guess is, there was an f-word equivalent even back then. Verily, verily I say unto thee, if you don’t have other words than that for me well, just shut the…

Fragments: ’20 Week 11

So if I set up a kind of schedule and framework–say for every Thursday–maybe I’ll do a better job of posting at least once a week? Does it matter? Only that it might make me less the tree blogging in the forest with a few ears to hear, and I get to see a task completed. Might be, within the fragments, you’ll find a thing or two of interest or benefit. And the lists over time will let that browser know me better by seeing what has drawn my attention over the past week. And does that matter? The jury is still out.

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REALM OF NATURE ♻️

You’re Not So Different From an Octopus: Rethinking Our Relationship to Animals That we have allowed ourselves to see humankind as other than and apart from NATURE is part of the philosophical wrong path we’ve taken that lead us to see the biosphere as nothing but a commodity and fodder for the economic machine.

To save insects from extinction, we need to give them space | Ensia And how likely do you think this notion will gain traction? We won’t give space to Polar Bears, penguins, or tropical forests to grow. Imagine–in light of the above point–that we have fellow feelings (and our own self interest) to the point where we purposely create “insect corridors.” Nah.

WHAT PEOPLE DO ✂️

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak highlights serious deficiencies in scholarly communication | Impact of Social Sciences If there is a silver lining on the vast cloud that will become the global Covid19 storm, it might be that we rethink how we are failing to work as if we are all in the same lifeboat.

How South Korea Is Composting Its Way to Sustainability | The New Yorker This article came along when Ann and I realized we could play a role in community sustainability–and this, as we contemplated the need to be locally sustainable in our neighborhood as Covid19 sweeps through. We don’t have a dog now, and even though we don’t create a LOT of food scraps, what we have should be going to our neighbor (from whom we get eggs) who has chickens and pigs. Duh.

WHAT OUR TOOLS DO 🛠

Hand Pumps: An Option for Back-Up Water Pumping | Resilient Design Institute We are loathe to leave our water and wood independence on Goose Creek. The Other Place needs one of these. A friend called just last night and offered the unused manual pump installed just before Y2K, now unused because they are content to depend on a forever supply of propane for a whole-house generator. We are not.

How to add personal documents to Kindles and Kindle apps – The Verge So it is no secret I am trying to train myself to herd the million cats of information I come across. Taking smart notes is key. Getting text into annotatable format is the beginning. Then comes the hard work of winnowing the wheat and putting it in places and forms that my Future Self can find when needed.

How to Legally Download Movies for Free to Watch Offline It seems a wise thing to do to retain sufficient reading and viewing material to sustain a family through rocky times. I have lots of empty space on the iPad and iMac. Hopefully these downloads include older movies with less blood, a richer vocabulary and characters with character.

UP CLOSE and PERSONAL 🔎

Guest Column: ‘Holding Space’ at The Floyd Country Store – Blue Ridge Country Dylan and Heather are keeping the Heart of Floyd alive and well.

NRV’s ‘Fish Ladies’ retiring, ‘Fish Kids’ taking over | Business | roanoke.com The end of an era: but not really. We have bought from the “fishwagon” every week since we moved here to Goose Creek, I think. We’ll miss the ladies but keep enjoying the trout, catfish and shrimp. The article says when they started out, they discovered people would not buy shrimp with the heads on. Reminds me that, when I met Ann in college, she (from Biloxi) was the designated shrimp peeler anywhere they were served en mass. She was an experienced girl. In that way.

Amazon.com: Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella with Teflon Coating (Black Red): Upper Echelon Products So I decided I wanted my Last Umbrella: one that would be visible unique and less losable; one that was well made and warranteed; and one that (unlike my ten yr old golf umbrella) could be put in a car wet and not soak the passengers seat. This is it. When not expanded in use, it collapses, keeping the wet surface to the inside. Clever, if weird.

Why we need an absence of noise to hear anything important | Aeon Essays I have sought out, been steeped in, and learned from the solitude and (relative) tranquility of two decades of quiet. Places too big, too fast, too fake and too noisy send me into adrenal stress, as they do most people. Alas, most city folk don’t even realize the cost they pay.

Radio queen: DeVito has four decade ‘habit’ | Local News | roanoke.com So you Floyd folk might know Linda’s many current hats and voices, but not the background. She has quite a history, and brings pieces of all that into her multiple roles in Floyd County and SWVA, and we are the better off for that.

ORBIT OF EARTH 🌏

Earth View from Google Perusing the images of our Blue Marble from space never fails to elicit AWE for me. This is a “good” we rarely seek out or find. It is right under our very feet and the cosmos above. Day and night, the planet is an awe-inducing place if we care to look.

Why Do We Love the View From High Above? | Psychology Today Herein, an essay on the eve (well, three months off) of moving to higher ground. There is something happening when we stand on a peak and see the distant forest, river, mountain peak and meadow. What is about the “higher ground” that draws us–and often makes us pay extra?

A global shift to sustainability would save us $26 trillion – Vox The costs of the status quo keep rising; the costs of sustainable alternatives keep declining. To choose to live in an a world governed by an unsustainable economic model is self-destructive; we know that, and just hope the end of the road will not happen until some other people are behind the wheel after we’ve lived the good life.

On Commitment

I’m beating the rush for New Year’s Resolutions, and thought I’d go ahead and start failing to keep mine ahead of schedule.

I’ve realized that I have allowed myself to get too unfocused and content to merely wander, digitally-speaking; while physically, in our current and unfamiliar dogless condition my geographic wandering covers only the distance between the back porch and the woodpile. This has got to change.

I do have the need to get things done, both because they tend to pile up like a sink-full of dirty dishes, left ignored; and because it galls me to see my to-do list being rolled over from Monday all the way to Friday unchecked. I can do better.

Writing words-per-day or completed “book parts” are worthless measures of my recent productivity. Firewood added to the stacks from the year’s deadfall has been a typical measure of things-gotten-done in winters past. This year, with our future housing uncertainty, I am not using my new old Ford Ranger to cut up perfectly good and relatively easy stove wood from up the valley. The stacks out my window, depleted, stay that way, down to the runners. This weighs heavily on my manhood.

At the same time all this is going on, I feel like I am making some progress in the “how and when to get things done” department, which overlaps with the how to save and find topical information again department. My digital house is more or less in order, the one over my head and under my feet, not so much.

With regard to the writing, I won’t beat the same dead horse that blogging’s nerve has been severed by Facebook and by my own lassitude and by having not worked to maintain my “platform” as publishers call it: your user cred measured in how many thousand people subscribe to your podcasts and blog; how many thousand you have spoken to in live audiences on regional TV and radio.

This latter deficit in my writer-cred has been one of the death blows to my early zeal in getting One Place Understood published-published, not self-published like books one and two. That fiction is over. What will become of the seventy five thousand words already tossed into the folder, more or less randomly and more or less unpolished, remains to be known.

My latest inclination is to just “put it out there” publicly in some way and let what few readers find it and show interest take what they might from it, and move on.

Another option I’m considering is creating a digitally accessed pdf that is nicely laid out with a generous addition of photographs from my archives. This would be satisfying, relatively easy to do, and perhaps marketable to recoup some money for Goose Creek Press, bless its poor neglected heart.

There are ways to do digital journaling to replace the moribund blog. One might be via a writing-augmented-thinking tool called ROAM. Already I have started compartmentalizing my daily brain-nuggets into a bulleted outliner (DynaList) for structured lists OR into ROAM for idea and thought management, but also into a ROAM notebook that could become an evolving internally-networked blog-like vehicle for following my own interests while those few who choose to can look over my shoulder and follow the story.

With regard to that story, a new chapter looms. It will offer much to tell but little life-force to devote to the telling, I’m afraid. Hence, full “blog posts” are unlikely, while incremental snatches of it can go to the ROAM blog, already in place.

I have been posting blog posts to FaceBook where the readers have gone. But lately a lot of my posts there are ignored and of no interest to those hangers-out. So only the few subscribing readers of Fragments can go to the link presently. Maybe I’ll try to share the link with a larger audience some day.

This post at Fragments is now duplicated over at the HOME FRONT PAGE. Let me know if you drop by. The Strange Farmer of Erehwon will be waiting for you.

Reprise: Of Memories and Hopes and Golden Dreams – Fragments from Floyd

A Future of Keystrokes, Minutes and Synapses

These are the things that I tell myself every morning are in limited and consistently depleted supply. Every morning, this reality should drive me to the top of my task and projects list.

And almost every morning, instead, I’m not driven anywhere in particular, other than where my whimsy points me—whimsy backed by curiosity, interest and the hope of discovering something new to know that I didn’t know I wanted or needed to know.

It turns out that “genius” and creativity hold a place for undisciplined “wandering”. I recommend this article that looks at the role of aptitude and focused work versus serendipity, wasting time and just showing up–in the realm of becoming a master of some domain of knowledge or ability.

The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius by Paul Graham

Meanwhile (as Steven Colbert is fond of saying with great drama) I have now purchased three Affinity apps: Photos, Designer and Publisher. The latter two are now on sale for $35. I have bailed from Adobe products and now OWN outright the tools for digital creativity, should I ever be in that line of hobby-work again. I may yet need to create posters, handbills, etc should I venture into another magnum opus or dust off my speaker’s notes.

BTW I used Designer to cobble the graphic in a few minutes, and in time, will figure out why the WordPress editor won’t position the image properly. But for now, approximate is close enough for what you pay me.

And finally, tomorrow our little kitten Mosey (grown from 2.5 pounds to almost 7 now) goes to town to (as Gary Larsen would have it) to get TUTORED. We will hope to contain her in the carrying tote we purchased for just this purpose; listen to her howl between Goose Creek and town; and fetch her, less her baby software, tomorrow afternoon, and hope that she forgive us this additional insult, so close on the heels of leaving her at home alone for 4 days (with occasional human resupply and mostly failed attempts at socialization.)

So as you note here, this is one the once familiar “Seinfeld” blog posts about nothing in particular. But I paid my server-host friend for another year of hosing Fragments, so I’ll be darned if I’m going to be totally silent for the next 12 months. I’m looking for ways to streamline the process, lower the friction to posting and to image discovery and down-res-ing for blog purposes.

So I may in future be saying more about less. But I can’t promise I won’t get wound up and churn out an essay, homily or screed.