The Duncan Banner

Opinion

February 10, 2013

Piddling can leads to inspiration — sort of

DUNCAN — Except for this fleeting reference, this column does not mention deranged cop killers, an East Coast blizzard or drought in the Midwest, the rising cost of gas, gun control, hacking the Bush family computers, French troops on the march in Mali or burning a witch in New Guinea.

Those were the real-life headlines and dramas playing out the day I sat down to compose this piece. But I need a break from real life, and some of you probably feel the same.

However, having reduced the topics, I found myself sitting in my, uh, plush den staring at a computer screen, trying to develop an idea for a column. In fact, I ogled the laptop for 45 minutes and still wasn’t smitten by the creative muse.

I was perched there, slack-jawed and brain dead, and not one masterful phrase had appeared on the screen.

It was time to draw from experience gained in “Squeezing Out a Column 101,” a course not offered in journalism school, but one that should be required for all prospective columnizers.

The course syllabus is brief: The only topic is what my mom used to refer to as “piddling.”

According to the Mom Dictionary, “piddling” is: An action that accompanies being bored or lacking focus, which makes it seem like you’re accomplishing something when all you’re really doing is aimlessly messing around.

In regard to waiting to be struck by creativity, piddling involves wasting time until an original thought grabs you like a foot cramp in the night.

Well, having given in to the piddling urge, here’s what transpired.

First, I got up and paced around for four or five minutes, then I went to the Internet and started looking at The Sporting News website.

I discovered Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez would soon sign a seven-year contract for a record $175 million, and all that did was cause me to shake my head and roll my eyes.

So, I got up and started thumbing through a stack of magazines.

I scanned a few pages of a Schwan’s catalogue (Yummm, those bratwurst looked good!), then I skimmed through AARP, The Magazine, which had a feature story titled The 10 Healthy Resolutions You’ll Love. Number one on the list was “Throw a Party,” because direct social connections can help you live longer and better. (But I was the only human in the house, and nothing’s more boring than a party for one.)

I noticed a stack of books and read another chapter in Jimi Hendrix Turns Eighty, a fun, sarcastic novel by Tim Sandlin. It’s a futuristic look at what happens at nursing homes once Baby Boomers move into them en masse, and the main character is a guy who retired from being a sportswriter in Waurika, Oklahoma. (I’m not making this up!)

Alas, the book didn’t hold my interest. So, I said to myself, “Self, music can enhance piddling.” With that, I turned on the radio, which was a mistake.

The station was classic rock and I tuned in to Peaches and Herb wailin’: Shake your groove thing/shake your groove thing, yeah, yeah!

As an experienced piddler, I can assure you the acts of piddling and shaking one’s groove thing are mutually exclusive.

Listening to music was out, but flipping through albums can be productive piddling, which prompted me toward the stacks of wax (Yes, VINYL ALBUMS!), where I thought I could kill some time sorting LPs.

Beginning to shuffle discs, it seemed someone had gotten several albums out of alphabetical order! (Grrrr!) A T-Rex album was between The Allman Brothers and The Amazing Rhythm Aces, The Clash’s London Calling was filed in the “M’s” and Tammy Wynette’s Greatest Hits mysteriously showed up in the jazz section.

I spent 27 minutes rearranging albums, then knocked off another six or seven minutes straightening pictures on the wall, which was kinda depressing. See, many of the shots of family and friends were taken 40 to 50 years ago, and most of the males who are still alive now using Rogaine.

I burned some time trying to have a conversation with one of the cats, but Lou just yawned and showed no interest. So, I used up 15 minutes gawking out the backdoor, watching birds at the feeders. (You know, redheaded woodpeckers are very acrobatic eaters.)

Finally, I sat down again in front of the laptop, and what to my wondering eyes should appear? The screen was filled with words!

An original thought had never smote me; the creative muse had never visited. But I had piddled my way to the end of a column!

jeff.kaley@duncanbanner.com; 255-5354, Ext. 172

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

    If the Oklahoma State Legislators and our Governor spent less time interfering in women’s rights to manage their bodies, creating ways to lay more taxes and fees on the middle class in order to generate more tax breaks which benefit only the wealthy while also conceiving methods with which to fill Oklahoma’s for-profit prisons, they would be doing all of us a favor. Instead, why not work to enhance funding for our schools and wage increases for all school employees? While reforming the state’s educational budget, why don’t they approve wage increases for our Oklahoma State Troopers and enlarge their Academy to insure qualified individuals are ready to fill the upcoming vacancies as many of the older force retire?

    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014