Tuesday, April 30, 2019
I have authored a new word. Use it as often as you like:
It is the best new word of the Century. When the august journals print their lists of the best new words of 2019 this will surely top all the lists.
Perhaps you are wondering how I thought of it?
I have long held the concept of the word in my mind, but I did not have the word for it. At the library I work at, for decades I have tussled with the patrons over small fines, policies, and varied understandings of just what happened to a book. And I noticed a phenomenon: People were sometimes confused, or mistaken, or even deluded, but somehow almost invariably in their own favor. If they got a date wrong, or mistook a policy, or weren't clear on what someone told them, the mistake they made did not favor them 50 percent of the time, as the law of averages would dictate. It favored them 99.99 percent of the time, suggesting other forces at work.
I started referring to this as "people being deluded in their own favor". Then I woke up one morning, this one actually, and decided this idea needed a proper word.
I chose "Condeluded".
It means to be mistaken, or make a mistake, suspiciously in one's own favor. Like someone bad at math who consistently gives you the wrong change, but always too little and never too much.
It's best synonym would be:
Oh, you'd like to see it used in a sentence? I have written one just for you!
Not least because he is the author of said word, Feldenstein Calypso's belief that "condeluded" is the most important new word of this century is condeluded.
Monday, April 29, 2019
I saw a cat today.
Wait, let's start over:
Like you I don't know any celebrities. Celebrities are so manifold that I can probably name as many of them as I can name actual people that I know or have met. And yet they are so rare that I can statistically say that there aren't any and for most practical purposes be correct. Let me demonstrate:
I poked around on the Internet and was willing to take one sketchy estimation of one in 10,000 people being famous as at least vaguely based on something. But it also seemed overstated, including, as it seemed to do, everyone who is famous to someone. The number of people who consider someone famous is an utterly essential deciding factor in determining how many famous people there are. How many people have to know of someone for that person to be a celebrity? I prefer the definition of a celebrity as someone who in name or image, and with just a little context provided, would be known to at least a third of any random group, and at least a couple of people in that group would get kind of voluble and excited about just the idea of that person and their fame. In all my years working at a library I have surely seen a couple hundred thousand people. Of those, according to my definition, real celebrities I have seen would number...
So let's go with that statistic then: Zero out of 100,000 people are famous.
This makes it hard to talk about what it's like to run into famous people. But nevertheless for myself I have an idea of exactly what it must be like.
It must be just like when I meet cats on the street.
1. I become very aware of them.
2. I am excited to catch a glimpse of them.
3. I get a little giddy.
4. While desperately wanting to be noticed by them and have an interaction, I also want to remain calm and cool so they'll think well of me.
5. If they like, approach, interact with, or talk to me, I feel inordinately proud, like I've accomplished something, or I'm special.
And when it's all over I can't wait to come on to my cat blog and tell you all about it.
Sunday, April 28, 2019
The Spring weather was going to cool a bit so disparate masses of air collided over my cities and created wind. Lots of wind, all night long. And then in the morning everything was cleared out; the dust, and the smoke, the motes, the just getting started pollen, and the clouds. Nothing was left. The sun froze brightly and the blue was revealed behind blue behind blue behind blue.
And I looked up high into the sky and there was a Bald Eagle. He was illuminated by the sun, made more vivid and absolute. He circled over the river, climbing into the sky while barely twitching a muscle. Large and small at the same time he was the whole world up there, perfectly detailed in the distance.
Then, to my surprise, he shit.
The shit was large and white and vivid in the powerful light. Like a sinister jewel it floated down the sky. It trickled, it drifted, it floated. I think it is still falling. Any minute now, or hour, or day, and it will reach the ground. Its fall is inevitable, just... stately, regal, and majestic.
Watch your head.
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Perhaps our lives should be measured in half years to get more out of them. How old can I manage to get by measure of all these thick and sprawling years? A century? Some decades? But in half years, today I would be then celebrating my 109th halfbirthday? And all of that with ever so many to go.
Oh, a present?
That is so kind of you but completely unnecessary.
I mean, if you absolutely insist.
For a gift I'd just like you to get everyone to read clerkmanifesto everyday. But only until I've taken over the World. At that point I'll become...
But you don't have to do anything for my halfbirthday.
Just, you asked.
Or, I pretended you asked- same thing.
I am spending my 109th halfbirthday reading about dark matter. It turns out that most of what makes up the Universe is impossible to ever see, or hear, or touch. Poor dark matter. It is flying wildly through you right now, operating under its own mysterious rules.
They say it holds the Universe together.
And it is also what sends the Universe wildly expanding.
The Universe is tearing itself apart. But it is doing it so much more slowly than even our halfyears are tearing us apart that we probably don't need to worry about it.
But then, just because worry is always optional doesn't mean we can always choose whether or not to do it.
Friday, April 26, 2019
Due to the recent success of my blogpost "Joe Biden Announces" I wanted to make sure I came back to the Internet with a new Joe Biden post. You see, it's not often my blog hits, um, 12 views.
Wait, that can't be right. "Joe Biden Announces" only got 12 views? That is terrible! That is tiny! That makes this whole endeavor hopeless. I need at least 14 views per post to achieve my overall goal of
Uh-oh. I forgot my overall goal.
Let's just carry on then. It'll all come back to me eventually.
You were wondering why I support Joe Biden.
(Just play along)
I have composed a list of reasons.
1. He is better than the current President, though this of course is true of all 19 of the other candidates, plus the person who cuts your hair, and the crow I can see out my window. Nevertheless...
You know what? It's not all about reasons! What is it with everyone and their reasons! Enough already with the reasons! I can't take all the reasons anymore! My support for Joe Biden is too grand to be contained by mere, shudder, reasons.
I'm exhausted, frankly.
So let's just get right down to brass tacks on this one:
I just wish everyone would stop trying for a better world!
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Dear High Profile Big Time Super Powerful Literary Agent!:
I have a manuscript of unpublished non fiction essays. They are a lot of fun! People have told me they liked them, although sometimes they just sort of insinuate it. But you take what you can get right?
No, you don't, obviously, being a big time super powerful literary agent. But I usually do.
However, the tide has turned for me, and that is why I am contacting you.
You don't think I would seriously waste your time with an untested manuscript that no one has demonstrated any interest in?
Well, I wouldn't. I would only waste publishers' time with that sort of thing.
But here's the deal: There are a bunch of publishers who are super interested in my work and want to have a huge bidding war over who gets to publish it!
This, unfortunately, is not my forte. I'd just mess it up. See above where I discuss taking what one gets.
That's where you come in. You, the literary agent, go find all these publishers and get them to overbid on my manuscript.
But look who's telling who how to do their job! I don't really know anything about it. You'll know how it goes, and then you'll make me a big, huge, famous writer who can afford to retire from library work early, not that there's anything terribly wrong with library work. Just, sometimes, you know.
And then after all that I say really nice things about you in the author's acknowledgements section!
It's going to be great for both of us!
Let me know when you have news!
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
It has come to our attention that at precisely 2:17 p.m., on Thursday afternoon, Joe Biden will be announcing his candidacy for the President of the United States. As excited as we are to learn every, uh, detail of the fact that, er, he will be running for President, including, according to all reports, how he will be running for President, and um, how it means he will be one of the Presidential Candidates, er, starting right...about...then, I will, tragically, have to miss all this new... information.
I would, of course, love to see the fulfillment of this, er, thing. I mean, who wouldn't?
Unfortunately we have a scheduling conflict here. I have a series of very important announcements of my own that I'll be making right here at that very same time, and though Joe Biden has rescheduled his announcement 11 times now, it is, apparently, too late for either of us to change our plans. So, sadly, we will be announcing simultaneously.
This means you will have to choose!
I hate to make you choose between me and Joe Biden!
But I must, and I will do it as fairly as possible by presenting the detailed schedules of our respective announcements.
Joe Biden Announcement Schedule:
1:54 Announcement speculating on pre-announcer.
2:08 Pre-announcer announcing Joe Biden.
2:17 Joe Biden announcing.
2:27 People with absolutely nothing to say talk among themselves after the announcement, rehashing what was announced.
Clerkmanifesto Announcement Schedule:
1:45 Surprise handouts of wads of cash, several kittens, and a late period Van Gogh.
1:55 Cancer cure reveal with the head of the AMA and all living Nobel Prize Winners for Medicine.
2:04 Humorous blog post reading.
2:11 Introduction of absolute first ever in history REDACTED .
2:19 Time allotted for prolonged joyful weeping, cheers, applause.
2:24 Guided question and answer session with first ever REDACTED .
2:28 Cocktails, wine, and cheese for everyone!
I hope you enjoy whichever of these announcements you decide to attend. Don't think of it as something you're missing, rather think of it as a win-win situation where you can't make a bad choice.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
I have to confess that I spend a bit too much time on the Internet. It's that feeling that there is some quality content just the tiniest click away, and everything always seems ever so close on the Internet. If only one can find it. So I click along with all the other mice hoping a pellet will drop. The trick is that there is no method to the pellets dropping. One can click ten times and a pellet will drop, and one can click a thousand times and... nothing.
And these pellets? Really tasty?
Wait, who said that? I'm 90 percent sure that can't be the point at all!
The important thing is that I have a solution to all of this. One slight flaw with my solution is that it requires being rich, but as you can see from my many letters to publishers that I have recently shared with you in this space, big bucks are just around the corner for me.
So what I propose to do is hire a full-time staff to compile for me all of the high quality content produced across the massive Internet during each 24 hour period (the Internet never sleeps!). This group of dedicated researchers will tirelessly fight through the astonishing breadth of content across Internetland and succinctly present to me all, or very nearly all of the amazing new content on the Internet from the past day!
Then I will sit down for three minutes and look at it. Brilliant!
Wait, three minutes. That's it?
Well, maybe I'll just click around a bit and see if anything new has come on.
Monday, April 22, 2019
Forget the daffodils. Who cares about the budding trees and the dance of warm weather. Green is lovely, but I have seen it before. Yes it's beautiful out, but that only heralds something greater:
The smell of tar is in the air!
Oh tar! Beautiful beautiful tar. I know the trucks are out on the streets today to patch up all the holes in the road, all the great craters and pits gouged in the streets by a mighty Winter full of bitter cold and deep ice. But all that's just an excuse. It is merely a way to bring to us citizens the glorious odor of hot tar.
At least that's how it feels to me.
I love the smell of tar.
Why, you might wonder, do I love the smell of tar?
I don't know, but I assume that it has to do with saber tooth tigers and mastodons.
I had just a tiny bit going on so I made my way over to The La Brea Tar Pits. There full sized statues of Mastodons struggled for their fictional lives at the edge of a pool of tar. One of them screamed and thrust his tusks in the air as the tar sucked him down. There were also statues to view of Saber-toothed Tigers, in slightly less trying circumstances, and a wide variety of genuine animal remains and reconstructed skeletons. The La Brea Tar Pits were a death trap for Pleistocene Epoch Megafauna, maybe. The reasons for the great collection of remains has become less clear. Nevertheless there were a lot of remains there in The La Brea Tar Pits. And I loved them. And it all smelled of tar.
Tar, tar, tar! Which is the smell of glorious monsters, and magic, and of ancient history! And it is also the smell of road crews making repairs on the River Road. And then too it is the smell of my heart, burning, pining, melting with a nostalgia so deep I barely know what it is.
Sunday, April 21, 2019
You'd better sit down.
I'm about to offer you an unprecedented opportunity.
As you will see from the following samples, I am the greatest writer that ever lived, or one of them that are in the top third, roughly, so, close enough.
But as yet I have gone unremunerated for this... gift.
You see, I have been working at a library, and I simply couldn't be bothered about it. But lately I have been feeling a little tired of working at a library. Lately I have been thinking about cashing in.
Now I understand that simply being a magnificent writer isn't, sadly, enough, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. The market is as important, if not even far more important, in casting the financial fortunes of a book.
This is why I am offering you the unique opportunity to dictate every single aspect of this book to harness my talent.
Not just genre, or the details of what the book's about in order to hit the current trends and needs of the public, but the style, the tone, and the language. And it doesn't stop at merely the prose, subject, pages, and contents! I am at your beck and call. How I market is up to you. What I say is guided entirely by your publishing wisdom. You say where I go and when. You say what time and I will be there. You say change and I'll change! Indeed, you say who I should be and I will be that person!
Let's do this. Let's make a bestseller!
I just have a short list of provisos to make sure we're on the same page and that everything goes smoothly.
1. I'm just a little bit particular about font.
2. I'm not very comfortable changing things around once I've gone to all the trouble of writing them in the first place.
3. I'm very attached to the words "um" and "very" and understand this can be challenging for editors.
4. I'm not at all comfortable writing about, um, well, you know.
5. I can only do marketing, interviews, correspondence, and public speaking on Tuesday mornings. An early lunch should probably be provided.
6. While my prose is highly adaptable, and I'm fully amenable to your direction, my work always seems to come out sticking it to "The Man". I don't mean this personally.
7. I don't like research, preferring to "make things up".
8. I should be the reader for my audiobook.
9. I have a couple of really cute pictures you might like for the front cover.
10. If you'd just happen to prefer printing my submitted pages exactly as is, as a book, that might be for the best. I mean, thinking of your own convenience here, mostly.
No matter what I'm really looking forward to working with you, whatever it takes!
With the greatest regard,
Saturday, April 20, 2019
In my previous two posts I explained how The Man picked me out of a group of co-workers idling about, while I was eating some lunch, to ask "Aren't you supposed to be shelving?"
I was mad.
If you have trouble understanding my outrage you might want to consider from the following possibilities:
1. You've had it very, very easy.
2. You've been beaten down by The Man.
3. You're The Man.
I'm not The Man. I haven't had it particularly easy. And I'm not beaten down. So I toddled upstairs with a cart of books, eventually, and I resolved to not shelve very much. Just to... make someone pay. Even if I wasn't really going to be able to make anyone in particular pay.
Then I stood up there in the non fiction stacks writing angry blog posts about The Man and occasionally shelving. Then I was just shelving. Then I finished shelving my cart of books and realized that I was so mad I hadn't noticed I'd shelved 20 minutes into my dinner hour.
Oh curse The Man!
But I did get a trilogy of blog posts about it. And they will change the world. And The Man everywhere will be gnashing their teeth. And finally, after 30,000 tragic years, the little people will rise up, the sun will come out, and everyone will be left the fuck alone for, like, five minutes.
So there's that.
Friday, April 19, 2019
When my boss came up to me on a recent afternoon and said "Aren't you supposed to be shelving?" I was mad at him as a person. But I was madder at him as The Man.
Fuck The Man.
Eventually I went upstairs with a cart of books. I was resolved to shelve 50 percent less at all times until my fury eases, for a week? A month? A year? Who will pay for this decrease in shelving? Probably no one. So as revenge goes it's probably not too bad.
Not too bad at all.
Upstairs at the library we are chock full of library patrons. My colleagues often speak harshly of them, and I understand; they are often not the easiest people to deal with. They can be erratic, rude, hostile, and demanding. As I gaze out over them on a Wednesday afternoon they are not the most prepossessing lot; in their pajamas, nowhere to go, bingeing on half-poisonous snacks, and ignoring all the fine things we have to offer here at the library in order to read celebrity gossip on the Internet.
But looking out on them, broken, old, obese, tired, lost, at least just a little bit losers, whatever their story, I cannot help notice one shining, redeemingly beautiful quality they all share:
Right now, right here, none of them are The Man.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
The Man messes with us all in his different ways. Maybe The Man hasn't messed with you for ages, you think, or maybe you are The Man. I'm sorry to say that doesn't matter. The Man comes for us all, even you, like clockwork.
The Man came for me today at 3:15, just as I was finishing a bowl of potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and tortillas. The Man said "Aren't you supposed to be shelving?"
Rattled, I gestured slightly to my food and said something about my break, but my heart said "Fuck The Man."
Eventually I headed upstairs with a cart of shelving, thinking "Fuck The Man. Fuck The Man. Fuck The Man."
The first book I had to shelve was called Jesus.
"You were The Man." I thought.
"Then The Man nailed you to a cross." I added.
"Then they made you The Man again."
Fuck The Man.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
As our thoughts turn from yesterday's tragic fire at Notre Dame to today's soccer matches, then to how much snow has melted around here, followed by a consideration of lunch, then on to my need for a Kleenex, and finally to some ruminations on what sort of coat I should wear on my walk up river to work, it behooves us to stop. It behooves us to take stock. It behooves us to consider what we have learned.
Mostly I just like saying "behooves".
Things looked bad there with the legendary Notre Dame Cathedral burning wildly in the heart of Paris while the sun set and our president offered helpful firefighting tips. But a new day dawns. There are still multiple live feeds of the disaster, but instead of showing one of the great buildings of the human endeavor engulfed in flames, we can instead watch a bunch of construction guys on a crane by a stone statue in the sky that did not fall.
And that's just the thing. While the damage is devastating, and the fire was huge, the main building seems to be intact. Stone man, stone. Plus construction workers! I always so admire standing around.
In another hour I'm off to work at my own local cultural institution, the library. And like The Notre Dame Cathedral it is a very flammable place. Ideally we would convert all those flammable books to stone tablets, but at some point we library workers have to ask "Will we really need these Jodi Picoult books for more than 800 years?"
And then we'll have to stand around for awhile.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
I catch colds too easily. Show me a picture of someone sneezing and my throat will start to burn. I figure I better start drinking plenty of fluids. And then before you know it I have coughed a thousand times and I'm urging you to wash your hands after reading this blog post.
Please remember to wash your hands after reading this blog post.
This morning I called in ill at work. I didn't feel too bad. I just wanted to save my co-workers, and maybe a few library patrons as well, from all the things I carry and sneeze around me. When I told my co-worker that I was staying home sick she didn't say "thank you". My virtue had to be its own reward, that and not having to spend a day wandering around with a Kleenex box and with my colleagues backing away from me making the sign of the cross like I was a vampire.
A whole day ahead of me I opened up my computer to check on my blog and consider what I wanted to do. I read a bit of a book about vampires. I ate lunch.
Then I opened my computer again.
Not that long ago I found the world of live feeds on YouTube. This is 24 hour streaming footage of things like waterholes in Africa, or kelp forests somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. I've taken to checking in on them. Most of the time there's just some camera panning around on nothing, so when one pops in and sees a giraffe, or a couple of elephants fooling around it's pretty exciting. Nothing much was happening at any of the waterholes, but then I noticed there was a live stream of a Cathedral burning.
One that I've even been in.
So I spent the rest of the day watching that.
Notre Dame is still burning as I write. The rose windows are all gone (update note from the future: they appear to have survived!), the roof, that spire that so dramatically fell. The towers are going to be okay, I think, because people are walking around on them now with flashlights. But you all presumably know this since I present my blog in old fashioned tape delay. You do not read this via live feed. The world always outpaces my blog posts, and by now surely the main news will be well set for you.
I however remain ensconced in real time. The moment I am done here I am history, preserved in amber, outdated, a piece of the past.
But what I lack in immediacy I try to make up for with- sorry, coughing fit. I'll get back to you later.
Monday, April 15, 2019
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1. How did you first hear about this site?
A. It was the first 47 search results in my Google search.
B. I haven't heard of it. Where am I?
D. I was tricked into coming here by one of your bots and haven't bothered to leave because the Internet has made me insanely passive.
2. How well does this site meet your needs?
A. You tell me what my needs are and I'll tell you how you meet them.
B. Not well at all; I can't find a relevant response choice to this question!
C. When should I expect my Visa gift card?
3. How likely are you to refer a friend to this site?
A. Not likely at all. I have no friends.
B. Not likely at all. This is not a reflection on your site, rather, I just care about my friends.
C. Not likely at all because I still haven't figured our where I am.
D. Not likely at all without a coupon scheme, credits for friends referred, a special to offer friends, a Visa gift card per friends referred, or friends (see A. above).
4. Do you have any other comments or feedback you'd like to share that's not covered in the pre selected responses?
A. No, the pre selected responses are so perfect. Where can I hire you guys to run a survey for me?
B. No, I loved the pre selected responses. I hated the questions with my whole being though. Hated, hated, hated, hated!
C. Only if it's going to affect my final score.
D. Yes, where do I enter my, oh, you bastards, I see what you've done!
Sunday, April 14, 2019
I don't remember so much begging everywhere. Every crowded intersection, the exits of some of the parking lots I regularly use, an occasional busy corner, all now regularly come with beggars. And that's just the direct to end-user begging. There's also the massive professional begging business. I can't say that the non profit begging that comes through the mail is new, but more and more places I shop indulge in this refined small change begging: "Would you like to round up for the Indigenous Collaborative Food Shelf." is the sort of way that goes.
Sometimes, maybe even most of the time I round up. But to tell you the truth I can't be trusted to tap into my human sympathy at any reasonable level that allows me to fork over enough of my money. I want my money. I like to buy things with it. But I'm not the only one in this regard. No one can be trusted. You can't be trusted. You aren't cutting it. Rich people can't be trusted, that's for sure. And poor people are still hungry. They are sick. They are homeless. There is no one in the world who gives enough. We have all let everyone down. Everybody. It just doesn't work.
If only there were some way to band together...
So how about if my local Co-op grocery store, or hardware store says "Would you like to round up for leftist candidates who support an absolute poverty level social safety net?"
"What will poor people eat in the meantime?" You inquire.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
This morning we got up and went to the MIA. That's the local world class art museum. It's a good one. In the Spring they do this brief show called Art in Bloom. Floral arrangers (flower artists?) choose works in the museum and then they make flower arrangements that go with them, maybe echoing a painting's themes, or colors, or even, perhaps in a still life of a vase of flowers, simply echoing it all.
Much to our faux consternation it was snowing heavily today. The fact is that we get our share of big April snowstorms in Minnesota and though one easily feels indignant when it happens, it tends to be a bit of a theatrical response. No one pays it any mind really, not deep down. It's just snow. It barely even sticks to the streets. It fills in the potholes. It's white. It's fluffy.
We've seen it.
So we drove to the museum and there were a million cars. There was no parking anywhere. So we left.
Was it disappointing?
Only in the sense that there's something a little sad about being turned away from something that's not all that great.
Friday, April 12, 2019
I love where I live with my wife. It's high up and there are lots of things to look out of the windows at. Sometimes there are birds and sometimes, like today, there is snow and wind and thunder. You can see the thunder. It looks like flashes of light. It's not really how I'd think thunder would look, but it's still pretty interesting.
When the conditions are just right outside, like they are today, our washing machine, or maybe it's our bathroom plumbing in the walls, develops digestive problems. All day long something here has gurgled and knocked, rumbled and groaned. When it first happens we spring up like someone is urgently pounding on our door, or trying to bang their way in through one of the walls. But after becoming accustomed to it it becomes almost friendly, like Totoro is sleeping uneasily, but happily, in one of our closets.
I have a sore throat. So I didn't do anything today. I played a game. I looked out the window. I ate a blood orange. And I wrote a blog post.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
I was walking along, through a neighborhood behind the river, and I was feeling large. The birds were all smaller than me, the wee little kitties, the bunnies, the squirrels, even the scrubby springtime shrubs and grasses were dwarfed by my towering five foot six and a half inch frame.
And then I thought of the trees.
When I suddenly thought of myself in the context of all the trees I became small and the world became wonderful. I was walking through a great stage set, a cathedral of a world. I was tiny, amidst wonders. The trees soared into the sky and flung their mad arms out in an elegant and stately chaos. They were everywhere and held the courage not to hide it. They were at one with the ground and they were at one with the heavens.
They were trees and let you know it.
I really like trees.
There was a big pine tree on the golf course that was sick. So the people there cut it down because the golf course has like 20 grounds people and things get taken care of right away. They put what I'm pretty sure was the entire tree through a woodchipper and spit the chewed up tree into a massive six foot high pile, 20 feet long, at the back of their parking lot.
Every day I walk by this mangled tree.
I think maybe the trees are way better than us.
Imagine if you put a dog or a dead person through some kind of powerful blender, and you left it piled up at the back of a parking lot. It would be horrifying. It would be fetid. It would be disgusting. But a tree? I go by every day on my hour walk. It is the highlight of the journey.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
While some of my readers know me on a personal basis, and so know who I am, there are others out there among you who know me only as a presence in Internetland. For all of you, and for all you know, I might be anything. I could be a cat, or a rock, or a river in France. But though I rarely make specific mention of it, being neither embarrassed nor unduly proud of the fact, I am, in fact, a human being. I am of the genus and species Homo Sapiens. I'm a person.
I bring this up now because I am going to talk favorably about trees. And I don't want you to think "Of course he has a lot of great things to say about trees, he's probably a tree!"
I'm not a tree.
Not that I would have any problem with being a tree. And not that, if I were a tree, my judgement concerning trees would somehow be suspect. And not that I'm saying that you would necessarily distrust trees in any way.
1. I like trees, and
2. I am not a tree.
Which is not me trying to show that I am some great, magnanimous guy who's like this bigshot "Friend of Trees" person, or to imply somehow that you don't like trees when so clearly you do, though of course, maybe you don't, which would also be okay. I'm not judging you. I respect your feelings on this matter. And I'd like think I could do so even if I were a tree.
Which I'm not. I'm not a tree.
And if it seems like I sure am talking a lot about how I'm not a tree in this piece I assure you that it's purely a coincidence and not a case of 'he doth protest too much'. If I were a tree I would no more try to hide the fact from you than I would hide the fact that this blog is now 100 percent underwritten by The Arbor Day Foundation (www.arborday.org).
Oops. I didn't mean to say that.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
I read the weather forecast yesterday. It said that it was going to be a balmy 65 degrees today! What does that feel like? What did it mean? How was I supposed to dress?
It's been a long Winter. I no longer understood absurd, zaftig, two-digit numbers like 65. I put on my layers of shirts. One of them had long sleeves. I was aware that my walk to work was still in the morning and that the temperatures might not have climbed quite so high by then. But I left without a jacket or hat. Long underwear was not even considered. I faced the outdoors.
There was a chill at first. I kept my cool hands tucked slightly into my long sleeves. But I was not cold. The sun broke through the broken clouds. A turkey vulture flew overhead, losing the thermals and uncharacteristically beating its wings. Plants began to quietly bud in the mud. I felt a little warm.
It was heating up. My shirts started to feel burdensome. I was sweating uncomfortably. The brutal April sun beat down on my back as I walked. As I approached my destination, the University of Minnesota, I was hot, sweltering. I peeled down to my one thin t-shirt and tied the rest around my waist. I regretted the minor thickness of my socks. In the long Winter I had forgotten how much I disliked the over-heated Summer. I was melting. And in my sun battered agony I looked up at the giant TCF Stadium time and weather sign.
It was 44 degrees.
They say that by the later part of the week a storm will be here that could drop a foot of snow on us! Eh, maybe. Let it try. What's it to me? For me Winter is over now, no matter what happens.
Monday, April 8, 2019
Oh man, brace yourself, you are about to really see something!
"I'm on the Internet." You reply. "How can I possibly see anything?"
I will explain.
Edward Abbey wrote a passage, in what I think was Desert Solitaire, that I have always remembered. Not remembered in a 'let me recite it for you now' kind of way. I remember it in spirit. I remember it thematically, by one of the tree rings in my soul.
It went, wildly paraphrased and poorly rendered, something like this:
You can't see anything in the wilderness from a trail. You won't see anything in the world that's worth seeing easily. You have to get off the path and wander and struggle. You have to sweat. You have to fight your way forward. You have to walk, dragging yourself through the clutching, scrabby bushes, and over the tumbled boulders til your body breaks down, til you are fallen to your knees. You have to crawl along the dirt and jagged rock until your very blood marks your trail.
Then, maybe you will see something.
It's a great passage. I did it no justice. I've always loved it. It's total nonsense.
Last night my wife and I were driving home from The Mall of America. We were coming up The River Road. There was a deer. It was huge. It was wild. Its legs were long and elegant. It moved heavily and with grace. We stopped the car. There were four other deer, healthy, magnificent, tooling around some rich people's front yards, nosing in the great planters holding the temporarily dead plants of early Spring in them. Seeing our car stopped they took the languorous opportunity to cross the street in front of us, one after the other, almost as if they weren't together when they were so clearly together. We watched them in joy and wonder. They disappeared into the night and the River gorge.
It was something all right.
But Edward Abbey was right too.
And you were right as well. The Internet is no place to see anything.
Oh sure, just like me you've been on your share of Internet hikes and every five minutes you see something amazing. You say "Wow." Whatever it was will have been upvoted 11,245 times. It has been shared and it has been gilded. It has two million views. If I showed it to you now you would say "That is amazing." So would I. The nice, perfectly paved, bricked and railed, Internet path will go by it at the perfect angle and provide an ideal viewing height. You will gawk and dazzle.
And then in five minutes you will forget it and never think of it again.
In a few minutes you would see another one of these wonders. "Wow" you would say. And you would forget that one too. Maybe you would see one so thrilling and striking you would tell people about it later. You would show it to people gathered in front of some screen somewhere. And then you would all forget about it.
Because there was nothing to remember.
You can't see anything on the Internet. It's numbers defy wisdom. It's paths are too perfect. Its wilderness too vast and broken and horrible.
But if you brave it, if you plunge off the trail, into the weeds and razor wire and poison oak, you will see even less.
Unless you get just this lucky.