Two weeks ago two minor inexplicable events occurred.  The two are totally unrelated, and both probably will interest no one other than me – but as will become apparent in a moment, I needed to replace my original blog entry with something new, so here I go.

  1. I have been writing a weekly blog for exactly two years. Because the pandemic has left me largely homebound, I have fewer interesting things happening in my life. As a result, about half of my recent blogs have not been about current events, but are recollections of the past. This morning I was about to post a thirty-year old story about Taipei’s Palace Museum, when it occurred to me that I might have told the same story in a previous blog.  I quickly scrolled through my archived entries and discovered, on August 13, 2018, I’d recounted the same fond memory. This was bound to happen someday, although I did not expect it quite so soon. The surprise was not that I told the same story twice, but how closely I used the same words in the retelling. Even though I wrote two accounts almost two years apart, I unknowingly plagiarized myself a half dozen times. For example, I doubt I’ve ever used the term “convergent evolution” in any other of my writings, but I used it in both versions of the Palace Museum essay. Now I wonder whether there are certain phrases stored away in my brain just waiting for one specific moment to be used. If I accidentally deleted an entire book chapter from my computer and had to write it over from scratch, would it come out basically the same?
  1. When a recent cold snap ended, I went outside to lift the tarps off the plants I was trying to safeguard from frost. Some were starter plants in my garden. La Crosse is in Zone 4, and any gardener reading this will immediately feel the urge to tell me that it was too early in the season to be planting. Yes, I know, but I try to put a few things in early every year, and every year it does not work. My poor gardening practices are not the point. The point is that I had two tomato plants side by side under the exact same protective covering. When I took the tarp off, one of the plants looked as healthy as can be, whereas the other was pretty much a bare greenish stick with withered dead leaves. Maybe the healthy plant will die in a day or two, or maybe the sickly one will recover, but how could two identical plants growing side by side react so differently to the exact same conditions? 

I have long known that there are things not meant to be understood. I add these two to the list.

Steven Simpson