Daily Prompt: Half

A half is only precise in cooking or chemistry. Sure, physics will tell you the half-life of plutonium, but it will hedge the whole thing with probability. People are more like plutonium than mayonnaise. “Half” in everyday speech is a is a probablistic nether zone between no-longer-the-beginning and still-a-long-way-to-the-end.

Kids are the best arbiters of this concept. Young people will begin to claim the half as in “four and a half years old” with more regard to feeling than mathematics. This inflation by halves is continued into adulthood and the workplace when a project manager or coach might insist on 150% commitment from their team. Were it humanly possible, the matter of measurement still poses a problem. Still, everyone seems to know what it means.

This is the weird thing about using math in everyday language. People don’t have a problem applying these concepts in a poetic rather than literal way. They will say they are bad at math and recount a story of failure to grasp a concept such as trigonometry, and conclude by saying, “and that’s not the half of it.”

This looseness has led to opposite ironic uses. “Half way there” can be used to mockingly cheer someone who has only just started something difficult. It can also be used to point out that finishing the last 10% of a project can be the most brutal and will often be a reason that the final touches are never completed.

HOW THIS WORKS: I have a jar of nouns. I pick one at random and post it. If I’ve done this right, none of the prompts will be something you’re excited to write about. The excitement comes through what you find as you write about the commonplace.

By the end of the day, write a minimum of 250 words but no more than 500 instigated by the noun.

Tomorrow, I will post my effort here and make a new post for whatever word comes out of the jar next. You are invited to post your writing or link to it in the comments so others can read it. Visit yesterday’s prompt to see what showed up there, whether you wrote your own or posted it.

You can comment without contributing. However: No critiques, please, but discussion of the process most welcome.

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