Back to the Grindstone

The old grindstone!Today is the last Day of Christmas. If you’ve been following the song, your house is filled with leaping Lords, milking maids, two groups of musicians, and an awful lot of birds. But now you can usher them out, take down the lights and decorations, and put the tree out on the curb for pickup.

I’m guessing some of you did the de-decorating on December 26th and didn’t even buy your true love a partridge. On the other hand, the 2015 Christmas season apparently begins on August 31st (and includes “Black November”) so it’ll be back before you know it!

Until then, it’s time to get back to the grindstone.

millstoneThis is the beginning of my second full year of retirement as far as the calendar goes. (In July it’ll be two years elapsed.) I’ve turned in my official grindstone — more of a millstone at that point — but I still have the blog and other projects. Not that any of that compares to “going to work” (especially if you aren’t thrilled to be doing so).

January is supposedly (but may not be) named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. He’s usually depicted with two faces: one looking back and one looking forward.

Whether it be the Winter Solstice or Janus or just the calendar New Year, this is a traditional time for looking back and reviewing what has been and for looking forward at what we hope will be.

Many make resolutions at this time of year. “Getting in shape” is a classic one. (I’m already in a shape, so that doesn’t apply to me, but I do sympathize with the amorphous. It’s tough being nebulous!)

JanusI’ve never really been one for resolutions like that. I’m very careful about promises to myself or others. I consider my word one of the few — if not only — things I can control in life, so I try not to say things I don’t mean or make promises I might not keep. They pave roads with good intentions, you know.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t reflect on what the new year might bring and how I might comport myself within it. In particular I’ve been reflecting this past week on blogging and on my blog in particular.

For one thing, I’m not the first person to question whether blogging is still a thing. Has it enjoyed its peak and now gives way to more purely social forms of media?

WP logoIt would be interesting to try to determine how many new blogs are created each year and how many posts are published. WordPress has certainly changed in just the short time I’ve been here (since mid-2011). Their main page used to brag about how many millions of blogs they had, but that’s gone.

They do claim “WordPress powers 23% of the internet,” which I find hard to believe. My guess is they refer to sites or engines — so Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, would all be one each. My guess is that individual Tweets (as just one example) far outnumber blog posts.

Not that no longer being a thing would be a detraction for me. I never cared about trendy, and I’m decidedly old-fashioned in all sorts of ways (even a Luddite to some degree).

flip phoneMy cell phone is an old analog flip phone I carry strictly for emergencies — very few people even have the number!

Logos con carne has always mainly been a blog in the original sense: a web log, a personal online diary of sorts. With no progeny, this is what I can leave behind, for whatever that’s worth. On a secondary level, it’s an expression of myself as an artist. I can’t paint or sculpt (or sing), so I write — that I can do.

So, meandering ramblings aside, what do I plan for the coming year?

There are a few more tales from my past I may tell. One post in the pipeline concerns my first student film in college (a collaborative effort with two classmates). I think I’ve already told most of the high school tales: my favorite English teacher, my other favorite English teacher, how I discovered theatre (and my artistic side), my first paying job.

gf-spsgf-rjrOn the other hand, there may yet be some meat left on that bone. My high school years took place in a racially charged place and time: Inglewood, a Los Angeles suburb directly west of Watts — not long after the first Watts riots in 1965. There is the story of my high school girlfriends. Not sure there’s a good post there (neither affair ended well for me), but maybe.

College definitely had some interesting times (ala the curse). The summer I worked in Las Vegas happened then. So did the night I spent in jail. Whether I can turn those into posts worth reading is another matter. Some parts of my college daze are a bit vague, fuzzy in a cloud of smoke — it was Los Angeles in the 1970s, after all.

vector thinkingThere is a topic — “vector thinking” — I’ve been meaning to explore in detail ever since I introduced it in the first days of this blog (my ninth post here). It’s a way of thinking about issues that I think is hugely helpful. In many regards I consider it the best gift I can offer.

Why I’ve found it so hard to return to is a real puzzle. Its importance, perhaps, makes getting it right a challenge (plus I have to create some graphics to support the text). There are topics on which words flow easily and topics where it’s more like pulling teeth — painful and difficult.

And — ugh! — speaking of which, this post is one of them. It’s just not flowing right now. The words seem without life. It might be time to take a break until I feel the need to post again. All I really had in mind here was commemorating the official end of Chillaxmas. Sorry for the rather rambling ruminations!

Ringworld EngineersAs a consolation for such a pointless post, I just put up a new Page (in the Stuff menu): The Rules of Leroy Jethro Gibbs (of NCIS). Enjoy!

Now back to the grindstone, everyone! (Or not, depending on your circumstances.) I’m headed back to the couch and the Ringworld sequel (and maybe a long winter’s nap — it’s been very winter-like the last couple of days — temps with single digits and minus signs).

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

37 responses to “Back to the Grindstone

  • Hariod Brawn

    New Year’s resolutions? I always give them up for Lent.

  • dianasschwenk

    You are a thoughtful writer Smitty and well versed in a number of subjects, some of which make my head spin. Yet you have a gift in describing them in a way that makes me understand at a much higher level than before.

    My favourite posts from you are the ones where you are vulnerable and raw such as the stories about your parents and your dog. Probably because I’m relational and personal stories about humanity make me feel not so alone in my human-ness, if that makes sense. I do wonder if these are painful posts for you though. ❤

    Diana xo

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Well thank you, Diana; I’m delighted that I can bring new light to any subject!

      And what you said makes total sense! That may be one of the greatest gifts of any kind of storytelling — how it shows us that we’re not completely alone inside our heads, that the things we think and feel are shared. I’m such an oddball that I would have given up hope long ago had it not been for knowing that, as strange as I may be, that strangeness is shared by at least some.

      The stories about my dog and my parents don’t hurt to tell — quite the opposite, really. They’re a kind of joy (although they can sometimes wring me out emotionally). The painful ones are when I can’t find the right words and end up deleting more than I write (and in some cases just saving the draft for another day).

      You know, I think you’re one of the very few who’ve been with me from the beginning. THANK YOU for sticking around — I really, really appreciate it!!

  • Doobster418

    I read somewhere just recently that there are 70 million WordPress blogs. I don’t know how reliable that stat is, but I did see it somewhere on the internet, so it mus be accurate. I’m not into other social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, so all I have is my blog. And apparently, like you, I can’t draw, paint, sculpt, or play any musical instruments with any serious skill, so my blog is my creative outlet.

    In any event, Wyrd, I’m looking forward to your continued blogging in 2015. I enjoy reading about what is bouncing around inside your head.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, same here (no Twitter, no Facebook — I am on YouTube, though). I’ve made a mental note to — one of these days 🙂 — do some research on “blog and blogging rates” over the last, say, five years. That someone else suggested that blogging might be on the decline rose my eyebrows — I thought it was just me.

      We old-fashioned guys will just have to keep on blogging and bringing our unique brand of wisdom to these young folks, won’t we, Doob! Aging Bloggers Unite!! 😀

  • Lisa

    I think you should do a post on windshield scrappers. This topic may have eluded you since you park in a garage. I bought two different types of scrappers before the snow fell to be prepared. They look like the scrapper part was from the same mold. It is not a scrapper if it removes the frost in broken quarter inch sections, in theory it should be the full width of the scrapper but I’d settle for 1/2 the width. Next year I’m keeping the receipts and returning the crappy ones.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Ha! It used to be that the Minnesota driver’s license made an excellent scraper, but now they’re just a plastic kind of paper. You’re right that I haven’t actually needed an ice-scrapper in quite a few years (since 2004 or so, maybe?). Had a garage at home and had a spot in the company garage at work. (So, yeah, totally not qualified to write a post about them!)

      Part of the problem may be that they’re really good at curvy windows now, which makes it hard to scrape. Maybe what we need are small, personal flame throwers. On the other hand, global warming will soon make it all a moot point.

  • reocochran

    I am hoping you aren’t gloating too much about your retirement, my W.S.! Anyway, we always waited until Jan. 6th when Epiphany and the Wise Men arrived.

    Hey, did you know there is a comet that has been around almost a week, but will be at its brightest today through the seventh? It is only here and won’t be coming back for 8000 years. I think it has love and joy in its name, too….

    Take care, my retired friend. Oh, my nests, birdhouses and little birds Christmas tree shall stay up until Valentine’s Day this year, my snowmen around the apt. like to see its lights. Smiles, Robin

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Heh, yeah. That’s the problem with even mentioning retirement — it sounds like gloating. I’ve learned to not mention it to my still-working friends. 😮

      Comet Lovejoy, yes. You’d need a very dark sky to see it with the naked eye, and you’d need to know where to look (it’s passing to the west of the constellation Orion now — draw a line from Orion’s right foot to the Pleiades, and Lovejoy is following a path parallel and slightly west). But its orbit is only about 622 years, so it’ll be back in 2630-something. Poor thing nearly got fried when it passed the sun in 2011 — some astronomers didn’t expect it to survive, but it did (although it’s a bit smaller now 🙂 )!

      Until Valentine’s Day! That’s some serious keeping of Christmas, that is! Brava!! 😄

  • reocochran

    I am smiling since I heard the facts wrong on the radio about Comet Lovejoy. It will be back way before 8000 years go by! Ha ha!

    Oh well, my attention span and my expanding numbers sometimes gets the best of me.

    I am glad you mentioned all the facts, just in case someone has a good telescope and lives in a clear area away from city lights. The moon has been absolutely gorgeous, even in the early morning. No, have not spied the comet. Thanks for telling me the direction to look!

    Oh, glad you are happy with my keeping a small part of my Christmas up. I like to keep the snowmen here up until I get the bunnies and chicks out but the tree must go by Valentine’s Day!

    As far as posts, I enjoy your personal thoughts and memorabilia, so keep on spilling your guts, my friend! Science is interesting and I try to stay connected and concentrating, …. but my mind wanders. Smiles!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Thanks, Robin! You — and Lady Diana — are the only two bloggers that have been there from the beginning. You and I started here at almost the same time! (I’ve seen quite a few others start and vanish since then, so we gets points for perseverance, if nothing else. Congrats to us both! 😀 )

      Your “expanding numbers” … do you mean to tell me you’re getting taller? 😛

      I was out (in the minus one-degree cold!) last night trying to spot the Lovejoy comet, but I couldn’t find it — not even with my binoculars. Some clouds moved in, plus it was really cold out, so I had to give up. (On the other hand, it’s finally proper January weather here, so… yay?)

      • reocochran

        I am glad you count me as part of your blog beginning. We have been fairly consistent, but your Lady Di is a very valuable ‘constant’ who replies and responds back and forth, carrying the conversation ball well.

        Thanks for ‘being there,’ W.S.

        I would like to see the film you worked on as a subject, since I enjoyed theater and was once a student director senior year in high school, I am always ‘up’ for this topic.

        By the way, I was referring to the number of people I try to stay in touch with, at least once a week, W.S. (referring to “expanding numbers” of bloggers to try to keep up with…)

        As far as the history of our being together, yes, I appreciate this so much. I sometimes think of the few who really meant a lot in the beginning for putting up with my rather ‘rough posts.’ I just needed to get a ‘handle’ on what would be good topics that I was comfortable sharing, got better with wordplays and word analysis. I like my posts on ‘regret,’ ‘frames,’ patience and the first ‘bridges’ post.

        Lastly, sort of happy you couldn’t find Lovejoy comet on the last freezing night, (January 6th! wow! Has it been that long since I was here?) No, not really. I would have liked to hear you saw it, since you did go out into the cold night to find it. I never saw anything but some golden shimmers. Not sure I was looking in the right direction.

        Maybe I have stopped by to check to see if anything new was here, but not sure do you see your ‘viewers’ who don’t comment?

        Will you watch the Super Bowl and who will you root for? I would go for New England, but this is because of distant cousins and memories of being there, while I have never been West of the Grand Canyon so have no memories of Seattle…. take care and stay in touch…

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I never did see the comet, unfortunately. 😦

        I may watch the Super Bowl if I realize when it’s on and aren’t doing anything. I used to watch at least that much football every year, but the last two or so I haven’t made much of an effort. Just not very into football — not like baseball!

        Right now I’m just trying to recover from a nasty head cold and hoping I don’t get too bronchial. I had chronic bronchitis as a kid and young man, but seem to outgrown it in my dotage. I haven’t had a bronchitis attack in years, but this one is still feeling iffy so far. At least the worst of the head cold is past!

  • rung2diotimasladder

    I’ve been wondering where you were. I missed this post, which explains it.

    Well, you’re retired, so you know what that means don’t you? You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to! Which brings to mind a popular song you may know, “It’s my retirement and I can post when I want to, post when I want to, po-ost when I want to.”

    • Wyrd Smythe

      You betchyer bippy! 😀

      I’ve been off working on a project involving Special Relativity. I’m planning a series of posts to commemorate Albert’s birthday…

      • Wyrd Smythe

        As a science fiction author, you’ll be especially interested because I’m covering the “Twins Paradox” (and a couple of others) as well as why warp drive is almost certainly impossible (in reality — not in SF, of course! 😛 ).

        The short answer on warp drive: You get to pick two: [1] FTL Travel; [2] Special Relativity; [3] Causality.

        That second item is one of the two most heavily tested theories in all of science. We’re really pretty confident it’s true. And causality certainly seems to be true (Hume, perhaps, aside), so… it’s not looking good for warp drive. 😦

  • ~ Sadie ~

    WS – really enjoyed this post and the pics!! Love the one of you & your girlfriend – even as small as the pic is, I can still see that face in the small pic that’s your avatar 🙂 Hope 2015 is a serendipitous year for you, my friend!!! 🙂

    • Wyrd Smythe

      And I’m wearing the old Boy Scout shirt I converted to a vest. Removed the buttons and sleeves, put in some metal eyelets and used a leather cord to lace it up. Wore that thing over my shirt most days.

      Glad you enjoyed it all!

  • linguischtick

    Yes, blogging is still a thing! I took a year+ off from it, but decided to come back. Glad to see you’ve still been at it too.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Welcome back! You have been missed.

      I go through phases where I go do other things for a while, but so far I’ve been coming back to it. You’re catching me taking a break after fairly heavy posting (for me, anyway) the last few months. I’m starting to come around to hanging out here, and I’ll be over to check out your new post soon. Or soon-ish… at this point I have some catching up to do! 🙂

  • wakemenow

    Where have you gone. Wyrd? Not a word from you in over a month now. 😦

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