Yakkin’ With A Razor (Or an explanation of my writing style)

Teenage Emo Yak

I was over at Seth Godin’s Blog, I read it every day, and ran across a very interesting turn of a phrase.  He is some sort of motivational marketing maven and all-around business guru.  I’ve seen a video of him talking to top IBM officials, presidents, vice-presidents and their upper-echelon managers about how AI will affect the world.  I don’t think too many people get invitations like that, so he must have a clue about something.  I am sure it is all part of his personal branding and while I haven’t read much more of his stuff or read his books, I almost always find his blog entries interesting.  Speaking of personal branding I think it’s significant that I have devoted so much time, space and energy to him.  People talk about him.

Have you ever pressed the “random” button somewhere?  A blog, a comic strip, anything like that.  I normally don’t because I am afraid of getting a thing out of sequence and honestly, I don’t remember doing it this morning, but when I opened the link to Seth’s Blog and saw the title, Don’t Shave That Yak!   I was intrigued and didn’t notice that the date was March 5th, 2005.  I still don’t know how I got there, but I was glad that I did.  “Shaving a Yak” was apparently turned into a phrase at an MIT communications lab in an attempt to describe why some programming things seem to take so long.  If you ask der Google about it you can get a lot of details and interestingly (to me) several references to Seth’s blog.

This very blog post is a great example because I figured out what the phrase meant without any trouble.  It just seemed to me that shaving a yak would be a potentially challenging proposition involving many steps to get to the actual shaving part.  But any reference to yaks makes me think of Carter and the herd of yaks he had in his garage in Clintonville that kept smashing his still.  His wife insists that both items are completely imaginary but who should I believe, Carter, a retired, decorated war veteran Staff Sergeant of the U.S. Army, who has been shot at and blown up and brain-damaged or his wife, a person who everyone claims is somewhat sane, except you have to wonder about that since she married him of her own free will.  But I digress.

Anyway, I began to wonder about whether Carter’s yaks were ever shaved and whether the hair was of any use for anything.  This made me curious as to whether real yak herders (yakherds?) ever did this and found out that there is a company that buys yak wool from Mongolia on a fair trade basis and makes undergarments from it.  I also found a clip of an individual trimming his yak.

This appears to be a lot of work.  Then I remembered what I wanted to write about, which was an old email I had saved from back in the days when Juno free email was a big thing, even before Yahoo Mail and before the Google was invented.  Before it was an email I remember it coming in as a fax to an office I worked in and it goes:

Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. or Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.  This is how it manifests:

I decided to wash my car. As I start toward the garage, I notice that there is mail on the hall table. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the trashcan under the table, and notice that the trashcan is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the trash first. But then I think, since I’m going to be near the mailbox when I take out the trash anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my checkbook off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go to my desk where I find the bottle of coke that I had been drinking.

I’m going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the coke aside so that I don’t accidentally knock it over. I see that the coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye–they need to be watered. I set the coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I’ve been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, we will be looking for the remote, but nobody will remember that it’s on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I’ll water the flowers.

I splash some water on the flowers, but most of it spills on the floor.
So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day: the car isn’t washed, the bills aren’t paid, there is a warm bottle of coke sitting on the counter, the flowers aren’t watered, there is still only one check in my checkbook, I can’t find the remote, I can’t find my glasses, and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys.

Then when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day long, and I’m really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I’ll try to get some help for it, but first I’ll check my e-mail.

Do me a favor, will you? Forward this message to everyone you know, because I don’t remember to whom it has been sent.

From an old, old email.

And that is how my writing process works and what shaving a yak is like.  And what a normal day is like for me.  And remember:

Mongolian Wolf Hunter
Even Zaphod Beeblebrox just can’t out-cool some people.


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