Creek Jots 2010-01-08

I could not bear to post more snow. So, summer dawn! Bring it on!
I could not bear to post more snow. So, summer dawn! Bring it on!

I Have Less and Less to Say
This may bring a sigh of relief to some. In aggregating my blog archives back to spring 2002, I find monthly word count averages in 2003 of 25 to 30k each month. In 2009, it was more like 3k a month. Why? Because I’ve gotten most of my grampa tales and viewpoints out there now; I’m far more distracted by and writing for those community involvements I hoped the early writing would lead to; and I’m acutely aware of a limited number of keystrokes orthopedically. MacSpeech arrives in a day or two.

Leading a Horse to Water
I suggested Basecamp as an organizational communications tool. Me and my big mouth. Now I’m tasked with offering answers to questions the membership for the most part have not asked. It’s like teaching freshman biology: no, they are not dying to know the intricacies of photosynthesis and you have to make them see why they should want to understand it. I suggested members spend 10 minutes watching 3-4 very short, concise, easy to follow video tutorials. Almost nobody did. So I’m trying to figure the best alternative presentation live at the next board meeting. Basecamp truly is a very useful tool; it will take someone becoming a committee chair to force them to drink the water and discover they might have been drinking all along.

Sarcasm, Irony and Polite Snarkiness
I find myself on the side of more than a few points of view that seem increasingly to result in strident radio talk show diatribes or email responses consisting of all caps and mostly typos. Treat yourself and read this articulate and genteel-ish reply in WaPo by Gene Weingarten called RANdom CAPITALizATION and other secrets of angry letter writing!!!!!!!

What’s That You Say?
The dog spooked in the wee hours, cowering beside the bed like he does when a smoke protector, cell phone low battery or chat message notification comes in. I listened intently to hear what it might be. Ah, there it was: a high pitched squeal, constant, almost inaudible it was so high and shrill. But no: that was just my occasional tinnitus. There’s an app for that. Music therapy ‘may help cut tinnitus noise levels’.

That’s All I Have to Say ‘bout That
I think another reason I write less these days is because blog readers read less. The dwell time on any particular blog post is far less than it takes to read it. My visit logs bear that out. (I lost most folks at the word Basecamp above.) So more and more, I write less and less for public consumption and more and more for my own idea-and-opinion archival purposes and as a kind of retrievable writer’s notebook. Fragments is not the interactive “front porch conversation” it once was. I have the sense that I ought not “blog while Rome burns” but when posts move towards controversial if factually-based environmental topics, fewer readers come, dwell time constricts even more. Blogging as solipsist ego-gratification. Is that what it is? If I thought so, I won’t be putting 3k words into it. I know you’re out there, mom.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m here too, Fred. You didn’t lose me at Basecamp. I even followed the link on tinnitus (I have it).

    I do, however, miss your old “front porch” conversations.

  2. We do read less, although once I get here, I usually read all the way through to where I left off… my particular challenge is how to stay regular with my readings. I go in surges, but I’m figuring it out.

    In my opinion these web logs serve many purposes, not the least of which is as a retrievable writer’s notebook, as you point out; but the community and conversation is important, too.

  3. Kenju, I miss the front porch, but few come, and I seem more the Strange Farmer of Erewhon again. Hmmm. I may post that little allegory soon, it seems fitting. And it concludes…

    “And yet, in his more hopeful moments, he thought “There is a point to this that I cannot yet see. If I am faithful to my dream, they will come and stop. They will share and invite me to their roads.

    And when those strangers are able to put their precious things on all the roadsides of Erehwon and the larger world beyond, we will grow to know and trust and care for each other. We will learn from and about those of us that seem strange and unfamiliar, as I must seem now to my visitors.”

    And so, the strange farmer of Erehwon still searches in his garden and woods, and in his memories and hopes and golden dreams, to find things each day to display before his visitors.

    If he is mad, he is harmless; and if his strange ways become the way of the lands beyond Erehwon, his madness will have become his joy.

  4. Canine noise sensitivities like the smoke alarm, cell phone, or chat message notification are actually way easier to fix than thunder phobias. If you want a new little project to work on for a couple of weeks, just say the word – it’s one of my specialities!

  5. Still reading – however, I comment less because I can read your whole post in Google Reader and don’t actually have to appear at your site.

  6. I have dropped by from time to time over the years, Fred. I lurk a bit more frequently now that I am a resident of Floyd too and also find myself involved in similar daily activities as yourself with regards to rural living. My shelved hobbies of photography and writing taunt me to come live vicariously through you often. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one with ruts in my daily path. Signed, your friend with 3 sound spooked canines and a frozen water trough.

  7. If you want conversations on your blog, you have to make the time to go leave chatty comments on lots of other blogs. That’s the way it works. Which is fine with me, actually, because most of the time I feel kind of withdrawn and would just as soon not have to answer a slew of comments. But whenever I’m feeling out-going, I know what to do. Of course, it helps that I have a couple hundred RSS subscriptions in my feed reader. When I’m in the mood to comment, it’s never hard to find good stuff to comment on.

  8. Dave, guilty as charged. I am a terrible blog READER, also using Google Reader which puts another layer between readers and writers but “saves time.” I think the chief loss for me now vs the early years of the blog is that, then, I didn’t have anything else to divert my energy or attention. Today, there’s not much left when I’ve completed the obligations of things I’ve gladly become involved with. And I’ve told who I am. Now: where from here?

  9. Count me as one of those who read Fragments through the rss feed in Google Reader. Google tells me I have 237 subscriptions (now I’m scratching my head wondering how the hell that happened).

    But then Fred, I don’t know about how you handle other commenters, but we seem to have multi-threaded conversations every time, they just don’t register in the comment section of the post that started ’em…

    I know social media like facebook and twitter are always eating into my time online. I’m sure it’s the same with the rest of you as I follow some of you on both systems…Makes me wonder what ever happened to just sitting and enjoying the quite…Maybe we all need to sit a spell on that front porch and listen to Goose Creek…Once it’s unfrozen anyway.

  10. I read the piece by Gene Weingarten and was amused. Such a laconic reply! But seriously, I really want to understand what drives people such as the letter-writer to their diatribes and I think I am beginning to get a handle on it. Blogging may be solipsist, but I don’t gain any ego-gratification from it – I’m just trying to understand the world I live in. Robert Bellah is making a grand contribution to that understanding, as are William T. Cavanaugh and Charles Tilly. My take on it is that the letter writer has bought into the American Civil Religion and that ownership prevents him from entertaining any other viewpoint, thus his rage.