I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

March 29, 2012 - 10:30 a.m.

Writing Again

I've wasted far too much time so I better start writing.

Months ago the handle to the hot water in my shower got stripped and started sliding away. I've wrestled with it every day since then. Yesterday I finally went to fix it. I went to Home Depot, that's really easy for me, I can take a bus that leaves right by my house, get there in 15 minutes, and take the subway back for one car fare. So I did. I found the handles and bought the cheapest one that "fits most models." I figured it is nothing but a lever, all I'm paying for is looks so buy the cheapest. Too bad they somehow figured out how to ruin something that should be too simple to ruin. I looked at the instructions. The first one is to pry off the cap that covers the screw that attaches it to the fixture. I couldn't. I tried all kinds of screwdrivers. I tried every attachment on my Swiss Army Knife. It just didn't feel like there was anything to pry off. Then I looked inside. There is no place for a screw. It is all one piece. There was nothing to pry off. They just made me waste an hour trying. Without the screw the attachment isn't as good. It basically just clamps on from the sides. I did that and I figured I'd live with it. Then I tried using it. It hurts my hand when I twist it. They didn't smooth any of the metal. This is insane. Now I have to go back return it find one that actually works. At least I can turn the water fully off now.

One benefit is that I discovered the West Indian markets in the neighborhood where the Home Depot was. That shouldn't be surprising as the neighborhood is called Jamaica. I have been overpaying for jerk seasoning everyplace else. They sell huge bottles for less than I paid for something the size of a large salt shaker. I don't need any now but when I do I'll be set for a year and I use a lot of jerk seasoning. I did get a plantain for less than I pay around my house.

For dinner I had the chicken that John Brown's Smokehouse gave me yesterday and fried up the plantain. I hardly ever fry them but I was in a bit pressed for time. It was nice for a change. The chicken was fantastic. If any of you every want to join me for barbecue a couple of subway stops into Queens let me know. It's worth going to John Brown's just for the food.

The reason I was in a rush is that I went to see Kath Buckell at Rockwood Music Hall. I cut the timing a bit close but got there a few mintutes before 8 when she went on or so I thought. When I got there, there was somebody else setting up. I looked at the schedule, somebody else was listed. Yes I got the date wrong. I hope I didn't miss the real show. Have I mentioned that I hate being an idiot? I figured I'd salvage the trip and go to Russ & Daughters for halvah. I did. They close at 8. I just missed them. I have to remember to stop there next time I'm in the neighborhood. So I picked up a chocolate brownie at that place on the corner of Allen and Houston and headed home. I wasted over two hours. Not only that but I took my Baseball Prospectus out of my bag when I was looking for the shower handle and didn't put it back in so I couldn't prepare for my baseball league draft during the trip.

Oh one good thing. Three months after I reserved it I got my copy of Grimm's Fairy Tale from the library.

I went to see what I have in my ideas bin. I knew I put something new in the other day but of course had no memory of what it was. It's "Easy to write since I write so much." So I'm going to write about writing.

I have always had ideas. Stories, stories, jokes, opinions, and theories have always flowed freely from my head. One of the few things I can't imagine is not having ideas. What has changed is that now I can write them down. A big part of that is technological progress. I not only have a terrible handwriting, I find writing by hand unpleasant. I've been an OK typist since I started writing long research papers in high school but I made too many errors that I had to go back and correct to make the process smooth. It took the invention of the computer and word processing to allow me to write every day for pleasure. It is a classic example of technology improving productivity.

That's what let me start blogging but it's gotten progressively easier over time as I've become better at writing. That isn't to say that the finished product is better but once again I'm talking about productivity. I've learned how to ease the passage of the idea from my brain to words on a page. I never set out to do that. I don't have a list of things I do. I don't experiment that much on writing techniques for that purpose. I have just found the paths of least resistance and recognized them after the fact.

Some of them are stylistic and you've probably noticed them. I so often start by saying something to the effect "I better start writing." It works as a trigger. If this were serious writing I'd still start that way then edit it out before the reader saw it. I then move on to things that are easiest to write about, what I ate, what I did, details that are just reporting. From there it sometimes moves naturally into what I think of as my main point and others I have to segue into it. But by then I'm writing and I have the momentum and it's easy. That's what happened today. I have actually written what comes after yesterday's adventures much faster than I wrote the first part. I'm hardly aware of the typing process. Well I was till I wrote that sentence. Now it's all I can think of.

Writing is like anything else, it gets easier with practice. I remember the first time I heard about Jack Hardy and his dictum to write a song every week. My reaction was "genius!" You practice something and it becomes easier. A big problem with creative activities is that people think what they do isn't good enough. Jack realized that isn't important. Just write, good, bad, or indifferent. You don't keep everything. Most can be put in the trash heap. That doesn't mean you wasted your time. If nothing else you improved the mechanics of your writing, you've increased your productivity. It goes beyond that; you might have found one line, one rhyme, one metaphor than can used later. I do that all the time.

Know what I love best about this edition? How easy it was to write. I wrote the last 600 words in about 15 minutes. Imagine if I could have done that in school. Speaking of school I want to get there early today. I have a lesson to prepare, something things to print out, and I want to stop at Staples first for something to clean the dry erase board with. I left the wipes I bought in my room after using them just once. Have I mentioned that I'm an idiot?

Secret Identity - March 28, 2017
Lavash Praise - March 27, 2017
Placentals, Marsupials, and Monotremes - March 26, 2017
Healthcare into the Maelstrom - March 25, 2017
I've Been Doing Some Hard Travelin'. - March 24, 2017

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. Horvendile March 29, 2012
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