What do you write about when it’s 9:30 at night and you remember you haven’t blogged yet today? You ask your family and you get this, “Write a story about lard, a wick, and a pocket watch.” Without further ado…..
A long time ago when our children were younger—in fact when we only had two of them (instead of the four we ended up with)—it was a custom in our house for a time that both children and my wife would all contribute an “item” and then I would try to make up a story on the spot incorporating all three things. This was in the early days of the internet and long before YouTube. Therefore, there was no quick Yahoo searching (Google did not yet exist) to get ideas on how to combine the items into some sort of story.
I don’t remember how long this custom lasted. I only partially remember one of the stories. I know it had earrings, I think the other two pieces where a kangaroo and a rabbit. It was two jumping animals of some sort. The basic thrust of it was one of the animals wanted to know how to jump farther and the other prescribed the use of “magic earrings” that were quite heavy. Disappointed that they didn’t seem to work, they kept changing them out with heavier and heavier ones until the poor creature could hardly move. When it finally got frustrated and dumped the earrings altogether it discovered that now it could jump much farther because of all the extra weight it had been trying to jump with. I remember my kids laughing a lot at this one. They were 2 and 4 or so.
Now, years later, confronted with a blog post, I get, “Lard, a wick, and a pocket watch.” This, of course, sparks the question, “Can you make a candle out of lard?” It turns out that you can, by rendering it down into tallow. (Google and YouTube are occasionally educational.) Obviously, at this point, the pocket watch is the odd one out of this story. If you search for “lard and pocket watch” you get a bunch of sites willing to sell you a pocket watch, a few on how to care for and restore pocket watches, and then several hits that are excerpts from books where lard and pocket watches happen to coexist on the same page. So, even though sometimes it seems unlikely, there are a few things that have not been videoed and uploaded to YouTube, yet.
What does all this have to do with anything? That is a good question. I’m not really sure. I only said I was going to put out 500 words a day—I never said they were all going to be profound.
If I had to venture upon a moral, perhaps the expansion of the internet has hampered our creativity and imaginations. We don’t have to ponder much anymore. If a question comes into our heads, we can often find the answer as fast as our electronics will process the request. While it is handy, and is a great convenience for some everyday conundrums, (how do I get a ____ stain out of my shirt?) it seems it might be stifling our ability to problem solve independent of a search engine.
“That,” thought Lardwick, “is why I shall retain my pocket watch. Those horrid wrist-watches are but a faddish innovation. They are unseemly and impractical. I am sure they will go the way of the Dodo bird.”