Hours worthwhile

Jotted notes

Last week, even with the boom on our lockdown starting to be lowered, I stayed on song every day, and worthwhile hours resulted. I averaged close to my daily target of 7 hours on “real work,” plus my target of 2 hours on “other writing crap.” I put in 16 hours on an obscure but weighty thesis on Australia’s nuclear history (amazingly, I’ve done little work on that subject up to now). I almost got Chapter 2 into Kindle-print-ready mode. I almost completed the early history of Japan (why is it so hard)? I’ve a clear picture of next week’s work in mind. Although some of the week was grouchy work (the thesis taxed me), the reward right now is a feeling of quiet satisfaction.

Lexicon Big Year: May 22


May 22: Not easy to pronounce, Steven Poole’s rare word for today, but I love it: deipnosophist. According to him, it’s a very ancient Greek word that still finds a place in dictionaries, and it means “someone learned in the mysteries of the kitchen.” But it’s more than that. If you’re a deipnosophist, you’re a whiz-bang chef but also a “philosopher-eater,” someone who shines intellectually over a dinner party table. Dinner parties quickly bore me and I can cook but barely, but hey, I can dream of one day morphing into a deipnosophist.

What word has struck me over the last week or so? It’s distancing, that is, the verb distance and its associated noun. Until recently, we would “travel a long distance” but the verb, as in “I distance myself from him,” was rarely used. Now “social distancing” and “social distance” are lockdown commonplaces.

Source: A Word for Every Day of the Year by Steven Poole.

Writing Big Year: The bliss of early starts

Early rising

I’m one of the lucky ones. Around planet Earth, so many people face an ongoing pandemic of plague-like characteristics, of indefinite duration. My lockdown lasted six and a half weeks (strictly Victoria isn’t out of the woods and restrictions remain, but my psyche rocketed out of strict isolation last Thursday). I spent a month of my lockdown half-working, vaguely anxious, forever needing to reassure myself with treats and laziness. But towards the end, something in my mind shifted and I clicked into a productive work mode that is heavenly. So … it’s dark outside. I’m back from my jog amongst a handful of cars and no other pedestrians. I approach my workspace, a welcoming sliver of light amidst the blackness of night. Inside, pen and paper and desktop await. The work awaits. Bliss hums in the air.


No more lockdown

There isn’t such a word but that’s what I’m doing. Here in Melbourne the lockdown has begun to be eased. Five people to your home … that doesn’t sound like much but it let us go see our local grandchildren yesterday for the first time in two months. Emotionally, that feels so much like a release, that I’m ceasing the daily “Lockdown” posts on this blog site. Those 46 Lockdown posts were nothing profound, just a means of prodding me to be attentive to the strangeness of the Covid-19 times. At the same time, I’m ceasing the daily “Defiance” posts on my other blog (an example here); those 43 posts were similarly aimed at keeping the flame of climate action burning. From today onwards, lockdown no longer imprisons me.

Lexicon Big Year: May 14


May 14: Poole surfs back to the 1600s and 1700s for a logodaedalus, someone who is “a cunning wordsmith.” Oh, here in Australia, that’s a term we’d assign to the crossword maestro David Astle. I love logodaedalus but I’ll surely never use the word.

I read in an Australian Financial Review article by Christopher Joye about his “clients that are prepared to bet against hysteria and exploit the ineluctable regression to the mean in financial spreads.Ineluctable? I’d heard the word but what exactly does it mean? Well, it seems the dictionary definition is “unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.” Is ineluctable better than “inescapable”? I think that when it is employed (and it shouldn’t be used every day), yes, ineluctable is a brilliant choice.

Source: A Word for Every Day of the Year by Steven Poole.

2020 recast


We’re not out of lockdown yet but in my mind and heart, I’m now calling myself free. Free to look forward. Free to embrace a fervent future. Free to dream big.

After a month-plus of hiding and indulging, I now gaze outward. I wake up early. I strive.

Within the swirling chaos of everyday life, my Big Decade skeleton overlaying 2020 will be two big years, the Writing Big Year launched yesterday, and the continuing, trivial-but-uplifting Lexicon Big Year.

How I wish the rest of 2020 spanned twelve months, not merely eight!