Monday, November 13, 2006

Whatcha Gonna Do Today, Napoleon?

Opinions are like ...

Never mind. I don't feel like being vulgar.

I know all the words, of course. Construction workers know all the words. But I've known just as many construction workers who were genteel in their speech, to a fault, as white collar workers. I used to observe office workers at my former life at a big construction company. Many seemed to adopt the use of streams of expletives as the preferred communication style, because they imagined that's what people in the field talked like. Most people, that worked in the field instead of the office, didn't. Go @#$% 'in figure.

As I said, I know all the words. But I'm tired of them. I long for gentility of speech and comportment. And I may severely limit that amount of people that work for me forevermore, as I will not tolerate loud music or vulgarity while I'm working, ever again. It's lonely being normal. I must cast a wider net than your average fisherman.

I don't know what to write about every day. I skip around this bizarro universe I inhabit and write it down. So far, that's the plan. But what do you, dear reader, want to hear from me? That's a complicated question.

You lie, you know. Everybody does. I can't ask you what you want, and tally the answers. You might be polite, or busy that day, or bad people I don't really want reading my stuff might answer in your place, and queer the pitch. And readers are always a potential thing. I have to decide before they show up.

I've got to figure out what the hell I know about, and offer it up to the big gaping maw of ones and zeroes that is the internet. And I can only listen to my audience tangentially to guide me on my way.

The commenter "Editor Theorist" drops by from time to time, and drops little strings of concatenated le mot juste, just like many of my internet friends. He's half a world away, of course, and is from another walk of life. And after I described my trip to the lumberyard the other day, he wrote this in the comments:

I can't think of anything remotely analogous in my own life to this process you describe. People's lives really are different.

Well, there it is ladies and gents.

I read a lot of things on the internet. An insane amount of things. And every once in a while, It occurs to me that there's nothing left on the internet that's worth my time. I'm especially tired of persons various and sundry telling me what I should think. I'm profoundly tired of cut and paste manifestos.

I want people to tell me and show me things I don't know about, but that are both interesting and true. I've had enough of blogs telling me things that wouldn't be interesting if they were true.

I'm not Norm. I'm not Cincinattus. I'm not Jeff Beck. I'm not Archie Bunker. I'm not Bertrand Russell. We don't have time to go over everybody I'm not, because I'm not like anybody.

I'm going to write that down.


Editor Theorist said...

Thanks for the nice words.

On a daily basis I read mostly Economics Blogs (eg. Greg Mankiw, EconLog, Marginal Revolution), plus Instapundit and Ann Althouse (which is where I came across Sippican Cottage). During the Israel Lebanon conflict I was reading a lot of stuff on that (to correct the anti-Israel BBC bias).

But why do _I_ read Sippican Cottage? Mainly because it is extremely well written, quite amazingly so. But in terms of topics, I am fascinated by other people's lives, especially their 'working lives' the fine grain (no pun intended) of their daily doings.

I am interested by SC's current work, and his past experiences, because they are so different from my own (medicine, science and academia). I like the unusualness of his general stance - which combines many of the values of a traditional craftsman with an optimistic attitude towards technology and social modernization generally (usually these are found in opposition in my experience: craftsmen are conservative pessimists, and techno-nerds are indifferent to crafts).

If I ever got to influence the mass media I would run an endless series of detailed interviews with ordinary (non-celebrity) people who are serious about their work, telling us about their work. It would open-up into their general philosophy of life - but remain rooted in everyday practicalities. That's my kind of show!

Anonymous said...

Why do I read this blog? I first stopped by because your comments on Althouse were always civil, steady, and the antidote to the increasing shrillness from the other commenters over there.

Why do I come back? Because I have always been surrounded by men like you who make wonderful things with their hands but unlike you, they keep matters mostly to themselves. I think of them often as I read your blog.

Your longer posts always surprise me. You start out with the rough form of an idea, chip away, sand it down, and come to the essence of who you are. I like that.

Deb in Madison

P.S. And the music videos are always good!

SippicanCottage said...

Deb- Thanks.
Everything I know about Madison Wisconsin, I learned from the hostess and the commenters at Althouse.

It seems like a lovely place to be.

editor- Studs Terkel wrote a book called "Working" about thirty or forty years ago. He went to blue collar jobs and described what he saw and talked to the people that performed those jobs.

He was trying to show the horrors of factory work. I read it and thought: Man, I'd kill for a cushy job like that.

The concept need resurrection. Somebody front me five figures and I'll have it for you in six months.

XWL said...

So is that last bit your anti-Whitman?

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

You're still Large, but you emphatically contain multitudes, . . . . . . . . NOOOOOOTTTTTT!!!

(sorry, gratuitous Borat reference)

(and I loathe Borat, but like the Not joke bit in the commercials)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Sip: Didn't Studs devote a chapter to the ladies of the evening, too? They were the working class dames. [I might be mistaken]. Bet Mrs. Cottage would frown on that research.

I read Sippican Cottage because it celebrates the Philosopher-King who also makes great furniture.

SippicanCottage said...

Walt Whitman was a weirdo. And not a good one. I like Emerson. He was a weirdo too, now that I think about it. Branding is everything, I guess.

I forget the streetwalkers in Terkel's book, if they're there. I remember the fellow in the samsonite factory. Back then fibreglas suitcases were the newfangled rage. The fellow would open up some sort of apparatus and take out a mat of hot glas and lay it over his shoulder, and bring it to a mold and press it in, and then bring down the other half of the mold on top.

Sounded pretty grim if you were the seventies version of Marx reading Dickens and worrying about "the masses." Sounded like a walk in the park compared to my own grandmother's job making sneaker soles in a factory in Cambridge, Mass in the twenties. The only problem we ever acknowledged was no job.

We were England's China and then North Carolina was New England's China and then Japan was N. C.'s China - and then China was China's China.

Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

XWL said...

Just bought some stuff from Old Navy and the labels read, Lesotho, Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia.

When it comes to cotton wear, China isn't China enough, anymore.

And I agree about Whitman, just cause I thought of him, doesn't mean I like him (same goes for Borat).

Plus with Whitman there's the whole Monica-Bill baggage that has accrued.

And just to be clear, China not being China enough is a good thing (probably).

It's far better to be today's China than to be completely out of the loop. Today's Chinas are tomorrow's Singapores.

Think how better off Cuba would be if they hadn't been kept out of the global economy for so long, as just one example.

SippicanCottage said...

xwl- China could save Africa. Europe don't care, and America has food subsidy tariffs.

China could save Africa by hiring it to make things they can't be bothered to make any more.

Paul Zrimsek said...

P.S. And the music videos are always good!

Deb must have missed the Nov. 4 one. Lucky girl.

Editor Theorist said...

A word for Walt Whitman - don't dismiss him without reading Specimen Days, his loose diary of prose sketches including the time as a Civil War visitor (but I like better his peace time ramblings).

Taken just a few at a time, I find these a sheer, life-enhancing delight.

But I must admit that his poetry leaves me unmoved, in most moods.

Pogo said...

Smart and funny; reasons enough to read SC.

I must admit to being among the more shrill of posters around. Compensating for a general sense of inefficacy, unwarranted certitude, and juvenile combativeness, among other things. (I blame grandma, who used to yell at the teevee.)

But you don't, leastways, hardly ever. Plus, you remind me there are still sane people around, even if I ain't one of them.

SippicanCottage said...

Paul- I apologize again for that one. I'll mail you eye bleach and knitting needles to poke out your eardrums next time.

editor theorist- Whitman = MEGO

Pogo- I'm no less opinionated than you. I'm just lazier.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so lucky. Watching that performance was like rubbernecking at a scene of a gruesome car accident.

Pogo-I don't find your comments shrill at all and appreciate reading them where ever I may find them.

Deb in Madison

karen said...

Hi, Sippicanman.

I travel via Ambivablog- she has the best friends(and family).

I'm, like- below bluecollar, but above welfare- in terms of the $$$$ladder, not any kind of elitist. We're dairy farmers, now organic. The only economics i deal w/are Quickbooks. I hate them, they're anal. Have to know where every penny goes... ~sigh~.

I come by now and then, sit on the steps of your porch and admire your words and pictures. It occured to me that i could purchase your furniture and just signed up for a catologue- i'm psyched to view the finished product and try to pretend i could have the insight to see the grain in the rough (i can't see it, but i can feel it). We burn wood for heat up here (NEK = Northeast Kingdom = VT) We cut down cherry last year and i thanked God for it's warmth as i just about cried every time i added a piece to the fire.

I appreciate the time you take to put together a beautiful blog- and although not as educated or refined as i'd like, reading what you write and the comments that follow- is a valuable enough education of it's own.