Writing

Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,
A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding;
And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.

Walt Whitman, A Farm-Picture

IMG_1696This post has been waiting a week for me to finish it. I had hesitations about posting it because it’s slightly negative and I didn’t want to publish those aspects of it and also because I’m still struggling with the bits about writing. But I’m also stuck and won’t be able to move on until it’s out of the nest.

The bird nest that’s in the palm fronds has come apart twice, both times a fledgling of sorts landed in the patio. This last time the baby has much more ability to fly, but it’s also quite chubby and seems to need a longer runway than the patio provides. So it stayed around while its parents brought it food. It made one abortive take-off attempt and crashed into a wall. By nightfall it was gone, but large parts of the nest remained behind.

The U.S. needs to pour more money into education

New York Magazine online published an article Libertarian Accidentally Shows How Obamacare Is Succeeding
Someone named wickdchiq commented on the article:

I don’t understand this line: “The Commonwealth Fund has a new survey showing that the proportion of adults lacking health insurance has fallen by a quarter, from 20 percent of the population to 15 percent.” How has the proportion fallen by a quarter? 20 to 15 is 5%, not 15% (a quarter). Are you trying to say the proportion of uninsured adults fell TO a quarter?

No, it fell to 15 per cent.  Here’s how arithmetic works:

(20-15)/20 = 5/20 = 25%

At one time I was a member of the Green Party in the U.S. and at another time I investigated the Libertarian Party, but in both I saw people incapable of thinking through a simple problem as preconceptions got in the way of facts.  I’m easily disappointed.

The 2nd most unpleasant person I’ve met in San Miguel

The first continues to be Rodrigo el faux vaquero whose immense unconcern about all those about him keeps him ranked at the top.  I’ve heard rumors that he’s had to do something about caring for his dogs, but it’s just a rumor.

His challenger is a gringa who operates a local tourist-related business.  I first encountered her and it about a year ago when the business was new and she began advertising an open house at which coffee and photographic wisdom would be dispensed (freely) and/or shared.  I attended the event and found that a hard sell was on, there was little wisdom being dispensed, and there was no cream for the coffee.  I’m certain I was both pleased that no one approached me and that I felt angry at being ignored.  Through a friend I learned that one of this woman’s tour groups, while on a trip to a small village, inaccurately accused a Mexican boy of stealing a valuable piece of equipment.  The incident grew into an event that was more ugly than just an arrogant assumption, and I believe an apology was eventually offered to the boy and his family.

More recently this woman offered to perform a favor for a friend by leaving a piece of electronic gear for repair with a shop in Mexico City as the woman makes frequent trips there and my friend makes infrequent trips (basically as part of traveling elsewhere).  It was a favor offered, not requested.  The equipment was not repaired over a period of months and the woman was annoyed when my friend inquired as to its status.  The woman claimed she made numerous trips to the shop to inquire as to the equipment’s readiness.  My friend had also given the woman money for the repair, part of which the woman held in case it was needed, which has yet to be returned.

Writing

I’ve been writing for so many years – throughout a professional career – and I still find it a difficult task.  I do not think it hard work as to me it is not work.  Work is pulling weeds, laying brick, hand-washing laundry, hoeing a garden.  It is difficult for me to state accurately what I mean when I say that writing is hard – my point exactly – but it lies somewhere in the imprecision of language itself (and my native language is so rich in the number of words and multitudes of verb tenses) and the imprecision of my thoughts.  There is an issue of getting the words – the most appropriate words that can be selected and formed in their best sequence – from brain to screen so that they reflect my thoughts or feelings or those of others.  Then there is the issue of how those words are understood by the reader or listener.  Even though English may have many more words than Romance languages, for example, and it may be possible to find the exact word to express a concept, many English words have multiple meanings, so can context lend precision to expressed thoughts?

In so many ways I wish I had the musician’s tool of precise tones from which to express my thoughts. Each listener hears the same tones  – a tone is, after all, the same for everyone although each may hear it differently.  But the tone itself is precise – one can look at the tone’s physical attributes and see with precision, scientifically, that it has x hertz and y amplitude and z decibels. Acoustics in the performing space and weather and one’s capacity to hear all impact what is perceived, but the tone itself is precise.  Not so with language.

In the past editors helped the writer make the written word better comprehensible to others; today, in a world of self-publishing, one acts as one’s own editor.  When handwriting was the method to get words onto a medium, there was no simple “cut and paste” tool except scissors and glue – words got onto the page more slowly, so the vagaries of the mind were limited by the relative slowness of the pen.

The editor had an important function beyond the mechanics of the craft.  S/he was a gatekeeper, somewhat like the reader in a movie studio.  The gatekeeper, having been exposed to so much terrible writing, had a better chance of noticing writing of value than the common person.  And like readers of scripts, gatekeepers would sometimes miss out on groundbreaking art as their employers preferred a certain style or subject or topic.  Because the new voice, the experimental work is not in a standard language, does not fit the pattern, it is overlooked.

For a number of years I was a marketing communications and technical writer and worked with editors,  They made every single piece I wrote better.  They caught my grammatical and syntax errors; they questioned my intent when a paragraph or sentence seemed wobbly.  They weren’t able to make me a better writer, but they made my writing better.

I also think editors made the written world more civilized. So much of today’s online writing is just ranting, not thought; it appears to confirm one’s prejudices; its goal not to persuade the undecided or even the opposition, simply to thump one’s chest.  Years ago I remember editors (and others) lamenting over a future world in which email would cause the downfall of written language.  They didn’t know that texting was waiting in the wings.  And blogging was about to descend.

So many words.  It is not often possible to write well consistently and frequently.   When newspapers ruled the breakfast table and the evening whiskey, a columnist who wrote interestingly two or three times a week was a rarity.  I truly admire the television writers who can turn out an interesting show on a weekly basis.  Today we have bloggers, like myself, who apologize for not writing on a daily basis (not like myself).  Writing for publication is not the same as writing letters to mom, although in today’s world I think many believe that their readership is like mom, who seemingly awaits one’s every word (while thinking about grocery shopping, what’s to be done on the weekend, and how will she pay the car insurance).  Bloggers have conventions devoted to their hobby in which they learn how to make the most of social media to get more readership.  Whenever I think of blogging I think of the character Miss Shaw on the television show Person of Interest, when she is sent to a high school reunion under the guise of being a professional blogger:  when she learns of her “cover” she bangs her ahead against a locker in the hallway.

June Hymn

I had wanted to include this song during June, but couldn’t find a spot for it.  Now that the boys are headed to Maine, where June sometimes arrives a little late, it’s still appropriate.

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