It’s been a long time since I’ve had to think of an original post to cap off the week on a Friday night. With the archives now well and truly exhausted, though, I’m left with no choice.
What I’m thinking about doing, now that there’s a more than twelve year deep back catalog of posts, is to use Friday evenings to revisit some of the “best of” posts from the last 4,380+ days. Maybe this is the chance to trot some of the golden oldies out of the barn for a fresh look using something like an “on this date” format.
I’m giving it some thought – do I add fresh commentary, note where I’ve changed my mind and where I haven’t, try to provide some fresh insight? Yeah, I don’t know yet.
The thought of going on a deep dive expedition way back to 2006 is equal parts tempting and terrifying. I like to think that in the intervening years my writing style and substance has improved. Then again maybe it hasn’t. Honestly so much of that was written so long ago I’ve entirely forgotten it. I want to imagine that the Jeff who’s sitting here at the keyboard now is very much a kindred spirit to the one who wrote those early posts. Believe me, you don’t want me to delve too deeply into how much of my self-identity is tied up in being blissfully consistent.
So, I guess the only think I’ll say tonight is “we’ll see.” If next week around this time you find yourself reading something dated from 2006, don’t worry. You’re not caught in a time warp, it’ll just be me doing more excavation of the past in the never ending search for clicks.
About once a year, but on no actual specific schedule I like to throw open the doors here at jeffreytharp.com and let you tell me what’s on your mind. No, I’m not asking you to click, or share, or forward to 10 friends to prevent the ghost in the machine from deleting all your porn links, but I am offering up the chance for each and every one of you to set the agenda for a little while. I usually do this kind of thing when it feels like my own topics are getting a little stale and it’s safe to say looking back over the last few months’ worth of posts, I get the distinct impression that the day job is getting way too much time inside my head. Thanks to the power of social media and the vast reach of this blog (you know, 20-60 people per day), I’ve got a chance to set out of my head for a little while and stretch my legs – or more aptly, my fingers.
So, you may be asking yourself, what are the ground rules? There really aren’t any. Want to know my thoughts on a topic I haven’t talked about? Ask. Want a deeper dive on something I’ve only tangentially touched upon? Let me know. Want to hear more about dogs and less about work? Tell me. Have an unanswered question about that one time I did “this” when I clearly should have done “that?” It’s your chance to get the straight dope from the horse’s mouth… or horse’s ass, I suppose, depending on your particular point of view.
Now for the fine print: While I will provide an answer to every question asked, I do reserve the right to “vague up” some details that could be incriminating for me or embarrassing for others. I will, however, provide the straight dope answer directly to the questioner in these cases. All questions will be answered in the order in which they were received, or the order in which I feel like answering them. Scheduling really depends on the day. I will lead off each AMA response by crediting the asker, by name, link to their blog, twitter, etc as appropriate unless they have requested to ask anonymously.
As happens from time to time the blog post that you should be reading tonight is officially embargoed. It’s written, saved to WordPress, and then intentionally published privately. I do this occasionally because the writing itself is cathartic and it helps me more clearly understand my own mind. That, however, doesn’t mean the words that make it to the page are in any way ready for public consumption. They may never be – or more precisely, I may never be willing to share them with you. It’s nothing personal, I promise.
For the vast amount of information I’ve been willing to share across the electronic world over the last couple of thousand posts, there are some few things I’m sure will just belong to me. I almost wish that wasn’t the case because many of those are the most impassioned, wide ranging, celebratory, hopelessly melancholy bits of writing I’ve done. They’re almost always the most raw and least edited.
Maybe someday I’ll sneak these hidden posts out into the wild where they can fall in to the larger sweep of whatever else happened to be going on in my head at any given time. For now, just know that there are hidden gems lurking here in the ether. If you’re lucky (and I’m brave) you might just happen to see a few of them some day.
Because it’s the end of the year and I’m using every tool in my arsenal to avoid actually needing to think about a post this evening, please enjoy this very special WordPress version of jeffreytharp.com’s 2014 Year in Review.
Here's an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
Under other circumstances, what you’d be reading right now is a blog post that I lovingly spent 35 minutes crafting especially for this evening. What you’re reading instead is filler because my laptop once again decided to choke on all the awesome and pass out.
In fairness, I shouldn’t blame the laptop. It’s a 2008 model MacBook Pro, running with 2GB of memory and in service every single day that I’ve had it. I’ve been consciously ignoring the fact that it’s flaking out more and more often these days. My inner technophile just can’t bring itself to spring for adding more memory to a 5+ year old laptop. Despite my best efforts at triage, removing all but the essential files and programs, and generally treating it with kid gloves, the writing seems to be on the wall that it’s time to either spend the money on an elderly machine or retire it in favor of something new.
After six months of furloughs and shutdowns, I’m vaguely unsettled about dropping the cash, but at the same time having multiple works in progress residing on a machine that increasingly shows its age is untenable for much longer. Hopefully I can ease it along to Thanksgiving in the hopes that our friends in Cupertino are feeling extra generous with their holiday discounts. Until then, it’s daily backups and saving my work every 30 seconds.
As a blogger I’ve found that some posts are obligatory. In November we talk about being thankful. In December, about the gathering together of family and friends. In July, of patriotism and love of county. Arbor day, however, is optional for most of us. Today, almost as far as the eye can see, is a celebration of Veterans Day. While I’m not taking anything away from those tributes to the men and women who served, after seven years of blogging, I’m just not sure I have anything new to say on the topic. That’s certainly not intended as a slam against any veteran, but a simple admission that I’m just not that creative – which is why I’ve obviously decided to take this in a different direction today.
Starting today, I’m going to try to avoid the obligatory posts or at least make them something other than the usual. How successful I’ll be at that kind of outside-the-box posting remains to be seen, but there’s nothing wrong with a challenge now and then to keep things interesting.
In keeping with that theme, I want to take you back to a world before Veterans Day; to the spark that ignited the world and led us to where we are today. I had a passing conversation last week with someone who bemoaned the fact that World War I is fast becoming another forgotten war, but Veterans Day traces it’s historic roots back to those bloody trenches, so it feels like an apt topic for today.
Don’t worry, this is just a suggestion, not a history lesson. I know World War I feels like a far away time and place now that it’s almost 100 years removed. Still for those who care to look, it’s jam packed with lessons about how great powers blunder their way into total war. The Guns of August isn’t all inclusive, but he’s a hell of a primer about what led Europe to war in 1914. It’s also surprisingly accessible for all you non-history majors. If you’re at all curious about what led us to Veterans Day, it’s about a good a place to start as I can recommend. Go ahead and pick up a copy from your favorite bookseller and see what I mean.