Thanks.

Crows RockI suppose it’s in the air, a spirit of thanks – and really, after writing here for a year, I have been pleasantly surprised by the empirical data compared to what has been my ‘main’ site for over almost 2 decades.

Thank you, people who follow the blog and people who have liked my posts.

I’d tried the experiment before with OpenDepth.com, but that was more of a finding of voice than anything really worth keeping – so I didn’t. And since I write about so many things, as a human I have my fingers in so many pies, it used to be much more difficult to decide where I publish what – and sometimes, that meant I didn’t write at all. Over the past year, I have an instinctive understanding of what should be here and what should be somewhere else.

Thank you for your help over the past year in this. Please continue reading, sharing and commenting.

Twisted


Driftwood
Some treess are allowed to grow straight -a tree might have stable light, stable water, stable ingredients with no tropisms that would cause them to twist. They are not safe; they are cut industriously to make other things by the toolmakers, to build things. This is so true that they are grown for that purpose, to be used for industry like so many other things. Their corpses are to be found straight and true somewhere, sometimes bent, hammered, screwed…

And then there are the survivors, those whose circumstances twist them, winds might break them, rivers may wash them away – their bones persist, washed into an ocean, their roughness worn away by the incessant massage of ocean currents and waves, their character revealed in the process.

People do not collect straight pieces of wood, they are not drawn to them – they are drawn to the gnarled and twisted driftwoods.

And yet society tries to cultivate people straight and narrow, repelled by that which is twisted until it’s character is revealed years later when it no longer lives.

Drone Writing by Humans.

ChainsA recent message on LinkedIn from a new connection had me laughing. I’m barely active on LinkedIn, as I consider myself retired from most of that, but it serves to amuse me more than educate me.

The message:

Thank you for connecting with me earlier. I reached out because I’m a big believer in using Linkein to create win win strategic partnerships with highly motivated individuals and businesses from around the world. If interested, I would like to briefly speak with you so you may tell me about yourself and business and discuss if we might potentially have any synergy together. Thanks in advance for both your time and consideration. Best Regards, ….

I cringed. A boilerplate. It could have been written by the Corporate B.S. Generator.

And I sighed. There were times I had to write like that, in that soulless speak of buzzwords – but it was never to be understood, it was so that it was parsed by Human Resource departments, or Upper Management. This sort of writing is only appealing to the people who either make the Koolaid or drink it. Here. I’ll take a stab at a better way of writing the above with some pointers in blockquotes.

Thanks for adding me [use of personal pronoun attempting to establish a human connection]. I try to connect to people and businesses I might do things with – having looked over your profile [which apparently was not done] I saw you have experience with [add what you found interesting] and thought I’d drop you a note. Maybe we could chat about it sometime?

See, somewhere along the path of writing for business, people lose what they really need for actual communication. The first is not to make the reader cringe. The second is to write toward an objective – what do you actually want to talk about other than overused buzzwords? I mean, I could write like that:

I can schedule a synergistic meeting such that we can holisticly evolve out-of-the-box solutions that leverage competently iterated open-source results. We can appropriately benchmark high-payoff outsourcing through synergistically facilitating scalable relationships in a many-to-many matrix. I look forward to working with you to progressively formulate sustainable ROI.

Regards,
Corporate Drone.

Or, I could just write, “Clearly, we can communicate here” which translates to:

“I communicate when I desire.

I take great joy in watching you squirm as you actually have to write something of worth to continue attempting to communicate with me.

Please, make yourself relevant or bugger off.”

Clarifying Syntax: Eats Shoots And Leaves

Shoots & Leaves.As luck would have it I ran into Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation in a local bookstore here in Trinidad and Tobago. That’s the upside of the bookstores in Trinidad and Tobago. A hungry reader finds themselves reading off their own beaten path because the books on the shelves simply haven’t been purchased since they were published.

Bookstores in Trinidad and Tobago are a topic worthy of their own book, if anyone would read it.

Amazon.com never suggested it for me. Of course, my digital shadow is not known for reading books like this. Amazon.com doesn’t know I have a Reverse Dictionary within a foot of my left hand, or that next to it are rare paperback copies of Sir Isaac Newton’s works.

As I started reading it this morning, chuckling at a few things, I came to think of why I had always been interested in these sorts of things. Was it my mother the poet? No, not really, it simply made her happy that I was interested for a while in poetry as a child. Was it the devastating accuracy I needed in saying what I meant to my father when I was growing up, being understood? Partly.  The anniversary of his death was yesterday, and I might write something on that.

And so, as I started reading the book, all of this came flooding back. Writing was an outlet, a way to think through things, and most desperately a way to be understood. There is folly in that; even the best of writers is limited by the reading comprehension of the reader.

If you are interested in writing, take a look at this book. I’m only through the first chapter with my first cup of coffee. That alone was worth the price for me so far. The rest, as they say, is cream.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Axing the Writer’s Block

storytellingI found a way around writer’s block for the site.

It’s Inspirobot.me, a site that generates random memes. It comes up with some brilliant ones (and a lot of really bad ones), but on the days when I can’t think of anything to write about, I’ll be using it.

Meanwhile, I’ve started writing a new book that is fun and interesting to write. It might even be fun and interesting to read, though I figure it will not be a stunning commercial success.

I mean, I’m a writer that has a blog of two flies having sex that somehow incorporates storytelling and randomness. That can be read a lot of ways when you think about it.

Deep Writing

DepthWhat I did in my last post, the Narrative Wars, was use depth through hyperlinks. It’s a form of modern writing on the Internet that has since been bastardized by SEO – where linking to similar pages affects page rank, and thus people have a tendency to link laterally rather than in a hierarchical sense. The lateral linking allows for other perspectives on the same topics, and it definitely has it’s uses, but the depth is better served by building on pre-existing works. An example of that sort of work is Wikipedia.

Speaking for myself, I like to build on a topic – particularly when I’m not sure that the audience (of whom you are one, gentle reader) understands – and it allows me to use my posts as bricks. This highly unused way of writing on blogs and media is not a new idea – it isn’t always a great idea, either – but it stems from an old article in Byte Magazine, in the 1980s, where Apple was very excited about the use of hypertext for this sort of writing – particularly in the context of an encyclopedia.

What would have happened had some of the great writers in the past done this? I don’t know, but I like to think about it now and then. Rather than rewriting something that they or someone else had written about in a way that they wished to convey, imagine them being able to simply link to it and move on. With tabbed browsing on PCs and that ilk of technology, it becomes even easier for someone to follow.

On phones and tablets, not so much.

It’s probably one of the gaps reintroduced that needs to be removed again. It allows building of things beyond stringing things together, building on other things easily.

And really, it seems wasted on people who lack the curiosity to ask, “He means something by this – what does he mean?” – and clicking the link.

On Suicidal Trees

Suicidal Hog Plum Tree.Like most suicides, it gave no warning. The machinations of digging the pond included the tree being over the pond.

The pond was dug right at the very end of dry season. The tree seemed to be fine, this large hog plum tree. No roots were broken, no damage to the tree.

Leaning against it, I learned of the biting ants and learned… not to lean against it. It became a landmark of one of the many things to avoid casually touching on the land, like the weaponized chlorophyll of the Trinidad Roseau.

Maybe it was that lack of touch that was the signal. Maybe, somewhere in the latent consciousness of trees it decided it was not just alone but lonely. Maybe I had chopped down some of it’s children and it couldn’t stand to live without them. Maybe it had seen it’s reflection in the beginnings of the collected water of the pond and it didn’t like what it saw.

Whatever the reason, I found it in the pond one day, broken at the roots. At the roots, I saw the stone.

IMG_20170604_154150

I do not know why it committed suicide. It seemed happy enough. And here I was left, having to remove it’s burdensome body from the pond, something that between the pickup, tractor and excavator was done… dismembering it accidentally here and there. Corpses are so fragile.

I write all of this to show how easy we are to anthropomorphize non-human things, and how we treat humans like non-human things. About how people commit suicide every day – U.S. military veterans alone at a rate of 22 per day, once every 65 minutes – dismissed as numbers that march into the sunset.

Civilians, too, who pass quietly into the night, not the celebrity.

And here I wrote about a suicidal tree.
And you read it.

Share this to support Suicide Awareness. The life you save may never know.