A fog knife, via 48north.com

When I launched this blog two years ago, I wouldn’t let myself believe I’d attend to it with any regularity, and as such didn’t spend much energy on thinking of a title. So “jmac’s blog” it was, with the URL blog.jmac.org. An acceptable URL, but a terrible, forgettable not-title. With my first post of 2017, I change both.

During several summers of the previous decade, I’d spend a week guesting at a lodge on an island in Downeast Maine. This lodge had built up all sorts of decor over many decades as its ownership passed from one generation to the next. Among my favorite such artifacts was a blobby wooden plank hanging on one wall, about the size of my forearm, labeled FOG KNIFE. With an apparent handle and straps, it suggested use as a hand-held tool, but its blunt, round “teeth” with large and carefully bored holes made its utility entirely unclear. It certainly didn’t look suitable for cutting anything, and what did fog have to do with it? I remember searching on the web for it while sitting underneath it, and finding no clues.

According to the one article I can find today, the artifact exists primarily as a prop for prankish mariners: build a fog knife according to spec and hang it on your wall (just as I’d seen), and then wait for the inevitable questions about it from curious and gullible friends — a contract I apparently failed to fulfill. If I had, goes this article, then the knife’s owner would have described in all seriousness the knife’s usefulness for carving out and lifting away wedges of fog around one’s boat, as a handy aid to visibility.

Since I never did ask about it, the fog knife instead came to represent to me a tool of certain existence but uncertain application. And so it struck me this past week as a wholly appropriate title for this blog, which I feel compelled to keep sinking hours into every week or so despite entirely murky rewards.

Thank you for reading. I will keep writing.

(Technical note: All older URLs leading to individual articles on this blog should continue to work, quietly forwarding to the appropriate page on the new domain. Furthermore, existing RSS subscriptions should work without modification.)

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