Category: Notes

Something Thoreau wrote on January 30, 1854

“It is for man the seasons and all their fruits exist. The winter was made to concentrate and harden and mature the kernel of his brain, to give tone and firmness and consistency to his thought. Then is the great harvest of the year, the harvest of thought. All previous harvests, are stubble to this, mere fodder, and green crop. Now we burn with a purer flame like the stars; our oil is winter-strained. We are islanded in Atlantic and Pacific and Indian Oceans of thought, Bermudas, or Friendly or Spice Islands.”

Thoreau may have been surrounded by snow and early darkness, lacked a television, and at times nursed a persistent cough. I can appreciate all that right now. But he didn’t have any fine graphite fly rods and yet still alluded to persistent thoughts of tropical climes.

MG signing off (because he does have fine graphite fly rods, and he is also thinking about the tropics)

UPDATE: It’s the worst kind of seasonal affective disorder, which has otherwise been particularly widespread this year.

Something Thoreau wrote on February 28, 1856

“How various are the talents of men! From the brook in which one lover of nature has never during all his lifetime detected anything larger than a minnow, another extracts a trout that weighs three pounds, or an otter four feet long. How much more game he will see who carries a gun, i.e. who goes to see it! Though you roam the woods all your days, you never will see by chance what he sees who goes on purpose to see it. One gets his living by shooting woodcocks; most never see one in their lives.”

In the above case extraction of said trout was likely followed by putting it in a frying pan, the original act driven by necessity. Does the same apply when the purpose is sport … simple amusement? Or is the talent in some way devalued?

MG signing off (to detect, and possibly dissect)

Something Thoreau wrote on March 20, 1858

“The fishes are going up the brooks as they open. They are dispersing themselves through the fields and woods, imparting new life into them. They are taking their places under the shelving banks and in the dark swamps. The water running down meets the fishes running up. They hear the latest news. Spring-aroused fishes are running up our veins too. Little fishes are seeking the sources of the brooks, seeking to disseminate their principles. Talk about a revival of religion! and business men’s prayer meetings! with which all the country goes mad now! What if it were as true and wholesome a revival as the little fishes feel which come out of the sluggish waters and run up the brooks toward their sources?”

As much as it still looks and feels like winter, spring, and the inevitable little fishes, are close at hand.

Some consider angling their revival, their prayer meeting, and go mad over it no matter the time of year. Others just especially look forward to the transition periods.

MG signing off (counting the days ’till the rainbows start running)

Something Thoreau wrote on October 26, 1855

“I sometimes think that I must go off to some wilderness where I can have a better opportunity to play life – can find more suitable materials to build my house with, and enjoy the pleasure of collecting my fuel in the forest. I have more taste for the wild sports of hunting, fishing, wigwam-building, making garments of skins, and collecting wood wherever you find it, than for butchering, farming, carpentry, working in a factory, or going to a wood market.”

Not sure about rejecting farming and carpentry, both of which seem like fitting pursuits for the self-reliant. But the rest sure does sound like fun, particular as it doesn’t remotely involve stepping into a shopping mall.

MG signing off (to imagine Thoreau taking a selfie while wearing a raccoon fur cap then refusing to post it to Instagram out of spite)

Editor’s note: He didn’t have access to a smartphone after all, but what if he did?

Social Media’s Dirty Laundry!

I always wanted to put an exclamation point at the end of a blog post headline. Got the idea from McSweeney’s:

Guys, I want you all to meet Joe. He’s the new head of social media and marketing strategy here at Bubble Trouble Laundromat.

Okay, maybe not. But I lost it after the first sentence, so you’ll have to read the whole thing yourself.

MG signing off (to wash some clothes!)

Something Thoreau wrote on April 16, 1852

“How many there are who advise you to print! How few who advise you to lead a more interior life! In the one case there is all the world to advise you, in the other there is none to advise you but yourself. Nobody ever advised me not to print but myself. The public persuade the author to print, as the meadow invites the brook to fall into it. Only he can be trusted with gifts who can present a face of bronze to expectations.1

Does the advent of self-publishing – electronic books, blogging, social media – make striking the balance more elusive, or easier to segregate?

MG signing off (to push another publish button, subject matter notwithstanding)

1 [At the time, Walden was ready for printing but Thoreau did not yet have a publisher]

December to Remember: More Missed Reading

Because I was overworkedgolfingfishinghunting … just lazy; now delivering everything I wanted to read in December but didn’t until January …

No kidding -> Facebook is the 21st century, tech equivalent of cigarettes.

Sell ’em more! -> The Fed Now Owns One Third Of The Entire US Bond Market

Which do you kill first? -> Mathematical Model of Zombie Epidemics Reveals Two Types of Living-Dead Strains

Theoretical value, like the US dollar -> Bitcoin Fever Has Spawned 100+ Copycat Cryptocurrencies

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Something Thoreau wrote on July 10, 1851

“I am always struck by the centrality of the observer’s position. He always stands fronting the middle of the arch, and does not suspect at first that a thousand observers on a thousand hills behold the sunset sky from equally favorable positions.”

Perspective is of course relative. The reality of what one sees might even be – Einstein theorized just looking changed things – making keeping it real all the more arbitrary.

MG signing off (to play the don’t blink game)

The Perfect Gag Gift

Speaking with a family member (via an actual phone call) yesterday, she expounded upon Facebook’s utility as it related to “keeping up with folks without having to exert much effort.” Hence I couldn’t think of a stocking stuffer any more meaningless …

stupidestgiftcard

If you got one, I feel for you.

MG signing off (pressing everyone to pick up their phone and dial their loved ones this Christmas day, instead of using Facebook)

Something Clement Clarke Moore wrote in 1823

The reindeer are fueled up …

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blixen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too –
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight –
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

MG signing off (wishing all a merry Christmas)

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