Monday, December 31, 2018

In Praise of Digital Collection Aids

Almost a year after I promised (yet again) to attend more closely to this blog, and having broken my promise (yet again), I'm back. No promises this time. Just a post.

One reason for not fulfilling promises is the distraction factor presented by other social media. In the last year I've discovered Pinterest, and Pearltrees--about which more later--and have become fairly active on Quora, which allows me to spout. Profusely.

But this post is really about why I've chosen to ignore my misgivings about "sharing" and jump onto a couple of social sites that have turned out to be especially useful and have enabled me to organize stuff more successfully than I've ever been able to before. Online, anyway.

Pearltrees (my account is private, because I don't want to participate in the wider social aspects of the platform; it's also pricey for the features I want) has given me a way to archive interesting articles and information, and to categorize them helpfully for later use. Pocket does something of the same thing, and I do use it as another bookmarkish sort of app, but anything worth keeping for very long goes to Pearltrees.

The real jewel, though, is Pinterest. Those of you who know me, and have heard me spew on about the evils of Facebook and the like, might be surprised at this new development in my digital evolution. Do remember, however, that although I'm a slow adopter, once I find something especially useful (like course web pages and blogging), I'm all in. In addition, Pinterest doesn't overly or incessantly bombard me with ads for crap I'm decidedly not interested in. Instead, it loads me up with nice photos of stuff related to my boards, and makes it easy for me to pick and choose, and edit, and discard when necessary.

I realize that this is a form of virtual hoarding, but at least it doesn't involve material objects (for the most part), and it's really pretty. I love being able to create categories of objects and describe those categories amusingly when necessary. But the ability to collect images of geological structures, maps, food, architecture, plants, and myriad other objects in a way that doesn't require me to be cutting pictures out of magazines incessantly and trying to find ways to make them available when I need them. I'm also astonished that so many contributors are such good photographers, whose photos enrich the visual quality of my boards and provide me no end of entertainment and wonder.

So yes, I do have quite a few boards (58 public and 1 private), with numerous sub-categories; I also follow quite a few people (115) and have a few more followers (273 at last count). The experience has provided me with a number of ideas for posts here. Whether or not any of that comes to fruition depends on how far along I get on other projects, including the Farm. That has suffered almost as much from neglect as the Cabinet has, but for different reasons--including the maintenance of a hand-written reading journal I keep up much more faithfully.

And Quora, on which I get to opine on subjects I actually know something about (mostly food and breastfeeding at this point, with an occasional foray into things archaeological or design-related). They made me a "top writer" in 2018, for which I was offered a subscription to the New York Times (I already subscribe), so there's not much to that except a chance to set people straight on how to avoid wasting food and how to wean babies. I get to follow interesting people who say interesting things about things that interest me. It does take away from writing time, though, even though I've learned quite a bit from the experience. I can't hide behind a screen name, though, and that does tend to temper my bent toward snarkitude. I tried to be "Hoban Washburn" for a while, but got outed and had to stop. I did not, however, realize it was a no-no, so my misdemeanor was unintentional.

And if anyone's wondering, yes, I do have an Instagram account, and one for YouTube, but don't use either. I'm absolutely positive that nobody but my immediate family would be interested in my cat, dog, and backyard wildlife videos, and Instagram doesn't add anything to what Pinterest offers me. But they're there, just in case.

I am spending some time updating the blog roll (which I started to do at the beginning of the year but got distracted), so if you're coming back after an absence, check out some of the goodies on the side bar. And do visit the Pinterest page if you're interested in what interests me these days.

Also, have a great new year. In many ways, it couldn't possibly be as bad as this one has been--but at least it should be interesting.

Note: I apologize for the over-usage of "interest" in its various forms. Although initially unintentional, I started having fun with it--and with the derivation of "P-interest." My beloved daughter, a long-time user, laughed heartily when I initially called it "PIN-ter-est" instead of "PIN-trest." It always does take me a while to catch on.

Photo note: This is the shot of my renovated downstairs bathroom, which I've used as the "cover" photo for my "Bathing Rooms and Water Closets" board on Pinterest.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


That's me, in the photo, hiding amidst the fronds of fennel last summer. I'm pretending to be a Black Swallowtail larvum, cleverly avoiding predators as I munch my way toward transforming into my adult version.

Only I never made it. Nature is often clever, allowing critters to blend in with their backgrounds in order to propagate themselves. For some reason, however, these caterpillars don't hide very well, and I (me, not my caterpillar avatar) watched at least three of them, hopefully, over a couple of weeks. I really wanted to see the process worked out in my very own garden, so as soon as I saw a female Swallowtail hovering over the fennel crop planted specifically for her kind, I'd anxiously await the arrival of a new member of the family.

None of them made it. The local cardinals--which have become something like the tree rats in their ubiquity and obnoxity (not a word, I know)--made quick meals of them when I wasn't looking, and I never saw a single chrysalis develop.

At any rate, I used this photo as a tentative metaphor for what I hope will happen over the next few months. I was feeling terribly guilty about not posting for all these months until I decided to update my blog roll. Hardly any one I used to read all the time is still posting regularly, so now I don't feel so bad.

But I'm trying to mend my ways, and have plans for several small explorations of ephemera that could lead to a more-or-less monthly habit. There are so many things out there worth mentioning, and so many of us who need distracting from current preoccupations, that I'm going to try to get this thing going again.

Unless one of the cardinals, emboldened by the nice weather, decides to have me for lunch. Fortunately for the butterflies, they (unlike the squirrels) haven't started having sex yet, so spring is still a way off, and the caterpillar in this case is only a metaphor.

For the moment, though, I'll be tidying up the blog roll and adding a few things, and collecting miscellanea to add in future posts.