Mental Crop Rotation
When farmers grow the same crop too many years in a row, it can leave their soil depleted of minerals and other nutrients that are vital to the health of their fields.
To avoid this, farmers will often alternate the crops that they grow because some plants will use up different minerals (such as nitrogen) while other plants replenish those minerals. This process is known as “crop rotation.”
So the next time you find that you need to step away from a project to work on something else for a while, don’t beat yourself up for “quitting” that project. Give yourself permission to practice “mental crop rotation” to maintain a healthy brain field.
Because I’ve found that when that unnecessary guilt and pressure are removed from the process, a good mental crop rotation can help you feel more energized and invigorated than ever once you’re ready to rotate back to that project.
: A crucial part of crop rotation is that the field is let fallow sometimes. You plant what’s called a “cover crop”, which is something you don’t expect to harvest– it’s there for its roots to hold the soil in place, and often it’ll be what’s called a nitrogen-fixer, i.e. a plant that can pull nitrogen out of the air and fix it into the soil with its roots (but sometimes it won’t, sometimes it’s really just there to shelter the soil surface), and then you’ll till in that cover crop, or let the frost kill it and the stalks lie as mulch, and then you’ll rotate productive crops back into that field the next season.
It’s important, though, to understand that during the fallow period, no nutrients are removed from that ground, and nothing is expected of it. Whatever the land grows then, it keeps, and it gets tilled back in or decomposes in place, to return its energy to the earth.
We’re not allowed, in our current society, to just let our minds be fallow for a bit, to produce nothing for export, to make nothing that can be sold. But it’s part of good land stewardship, to give every field time when it doesn’t need to give you anything back.
So yes, grow and produce different things from time to time, rotate them around your mind and exercise different mental muscles, take different things from your creative processes, yes– but also, give yourself a fallow spell now and again, and let the field of your mind grow things for itself to keep, to break down and save for later.
He is a Belgian shepherd (groenendael); I picked this breed because they are known for being good guardians, and because a friend told me they were the best dogs ever. Here’s a pic of his very elegant father (not taken by me because I would have never cropped out his big bat ears!)
A Pandolf fact: he doesn’t understand that when I crouch down under a fence, it merely means I am about to cross a field that does not belong to me. He thinks “Human is at Pandolf height—this must be about me” and happily rushes over to be petted. Now when we go on walks I have to take a 5min break to cuddle my puppy every time I slip under a fence to cross a field.
« At times they nested above us,
Hugely fixed in silent considerings,
Shadow lakes pooled along their sides
As rafts of clouds passed across
The sun. At other times, weightless
As breath, chameleonlike,
They could take the color of rain
And vanish behind a scrim of cloud.
Always expected and always strange—
How, staying exactly in the same place
The mountains were continually leaving
Day after day, […] in the Chinese-misted drift of evening. »
— Robert Cording, “White Mountains”
I realised today that when I grind to a halt in one of my translations it is nearly always because the author slipped into Bullshitting Mode, and it is horribly difficult to translate English bullshitting into French. Our countries simply don’t bullshit in the same way and that is an insuperable cultural barrier. The French language is very intolerant to empty waffling due to its need for logical connectors between clauses and its rigid syntax that doesn’t allow meaning to get muddled easily, so it’s such a headache to wade through a text full of meaningless yogurt like “We need to make a proactive effort to support this reframing of the narrative and build the social fabric of those engaging in the problem to create a concerted dynamic that fosters engagement”—sentences that don’t have a point are really so hard to render into French.
Academic bullshitting obviously exists in French but it usually consists in taking the core message of a sentence and adorning it with needlessly pompous and convoluted prose, so that by pushing aside all the verbiage and gratuitous subordinate clauses you can find the substance, while English speakers practise a very special kind of bullshitting that consists in aligning words that carry no substance whatsoever. Sometimes I have to straight-up invent the message of a sentence just so I can translate it in a way that works in my language, i.e. using a sequence of words that actually means something.
(In doing so I am ignoring the wisdom of one of my uni professors who once told us “If you ever find yourself translating papers in the field of social science, you will undoubtedly sooner or later end up wading through a swamp of heinous and unfathomable bullshit, and as a rule we recommend that you try to translate it as French bullshit every bit as heinous and unfathomable, out of respect for the author’s desire for unintelligibility.”)
You are extremely sweet anon, that was such a nice message to receive! Llamas and donkey say hello (the cats are probably in this pic too, but too tiny for human eyes):
Look at Pandolf’s scary crocodile face as he approaches this tiny kitten!
It looks like he’s going to devour her!!
But he just wants
to pull on her tail gently to attract her attention.
You know what post of mine never attracted any unpleasant responses? The garbage deer post. Nearly 17K notes and no discourse whatsoever. Just a few anglos being flummoxed by the name Pierre-Jean but that’s fair.
And I wish we were Regency penpals anon, you sound lovely.
Accidentally bought 2kg of onions today so I googled “Do llamas like onions?” and google helpfully gave me the recipe to cook llama tenderloins with onions
My mum: “Keep it in your bookmarks just in case”
Me: Hi, good morning, have you lost any cows? I think I saw some of your cows on the road a couple of kilometres from here. I figured they were yours because of their white and gold bells.
My farmer neighbour: How many cows? How were they?
Me: Four. They were beautiful.
Neighbour: I mean what kind of cows were they. Salers? Aubrac? Tarines?
Me: They were big, and had horns.
Neighbour: Were they cows or heifers?
Me: That’s not the same thing?
Neighbour: Okay, show me the way.
Interest in natural history may have reached its peak in Victorian-era Great Britain, and a major driver of the craze was microscopes. […] Gazing through these “magic glasses” rendered previously unseen worlds, which teemed with tiny living creatures, newly visible. When it came time to describe what they were seeing, people frequently turned to the language of the fantastical. “Naturalists and lay users readily used a vocabulary drawn from fairy literature to convey the incomprehensible strangeness and minutiae of the microscopic world,” writes the historian Laura Forsberg in Nature’s Invisibilia: The Victorian Microscope and the Miniature Fairy.
[…] In Fairy Tales, Natural History and Victorian Culture, author Laurence Talairach-Vielmas makes a similar observation: “If science appeared to disenchant the world, scientists increasingly explaining away the mysteries of natural phenomena, Victorian popularizers [of science] played a key part in presenting the natural world as enchanting and entrancing: although the wonders of science could account for the mysteries of nature, nature nonetheless remained a fairyland.”
[…] Art historian Ursula Seibold-Bultmann believes it’s no coincidence that the golden age of British fairy painting overlaps chronologically with the Victorian microscopy craze. […] And the microscope itself was used to argue both for and against the existence of fairies. The microscope, thus, embodied a dichotomy, fulfilling two seemingly disparate purposes: an instrument of serious scientific study and a gateway into the realm of miniature living beings.
If I’d known that my post about my postwoman being threatened with penalties if she continues making friendly small talk for 5 minutes while delivering letters would prompt Jeff Bezos to send me disgruntled anon messages, I would have left it in my drafts.
“Your mail carrier isnt your friend” Are you an AI? God forbid being friendly with a nice person you see almost every day. It says a lot about you (or rather, about the inhuman definition of “jobs” we are all inculcated into) that you think a person is “not doing their job” if they do in a way that makes it more meaningful to them, makes them happier, and strengthens community ties, rather than doing it in a relentless pursuit of optimum profitability for their employer.
“If you wanna be a good person, you would do it on your own. not only do it while getting paid to be doing something else”— The fact that being a good person is monetarily worthless in our society and that fostering human connection is not valued as an essential part of any job as it doesn’t maximise your productivity, doesn’t mean you are somehow usurping your employer by being kind to people and taking five minutes of your time to relate to them as human beings while doing your job. It just means your job hasn’t entirely crushed your soul yet.
If you think your day sucked, at least you aren’t an innocent young llama who was unjustly locked up in llama jail for ten entire minutes.
Mushroom lamps by Japanese company Great Mushrooming made of glass, LED lights, and waste wood. Unfortunately they are not currently for sale outside of Japan. More information at the company’s website (in Japanese). [via thedesignhome]