Category Archives: Etc.

Recent Views

2016-04-16 11.38.48

Flying above Idaho, returning from Portland. I usually don’t take pictures from airplanes, but I’m a sucker for mountains, especially ones as pretty as these. They sparkled.

Chicago-sunset

Chicago at sunset, as lonesome and resolute as the celestial orb overlooking it.

2016-04-28 20.39.05

William Fitzsimmons concert. I liked the natural quadrants that formed outward from the violinist, and the colors exaggerating those divisions.

The Preservation of Tangibility

What started with a web search for Wendell Berry’s mailing address led me to this article by Sandra McCracken about her pilgrimage to visit the Sage of Port Royal—thus combining two of my favorite artists into one webpage. A passage from McCracken’s reflections stood out:

One of my favorite moments was when Wendell said that he is a member of two organizations: 1) The Slow Communication Movement and 2) The Preservation of Tangibility. He noted that anyone can join these and added with a grin, “Actually, I think I founded them.”

I think about tangibility a lot. How the images we look at on a computer screen or smartphone don’t exist, not really, and how if a megavirus wiped out the internet and everything on our computers a huge percentage of our lives—probably too big—would cease to exist. Kinda makes me want to take up woodworking or something.

I’m not so silly to suggest life would be better without intangible technologies. I’m grateful to live in a time when I can choose tangible things like writing by hand or strumming the guitar or dropping the needle on a vinyl as a means of escape—rather than these things simply being the default mode of interacting with the world.

But damned if I wouldn’t take more of those things over staring at the same rectangle of pixels all day, every day, forever.

Typewriter Files: 1960 Smith Corona Electra 12

sc-electra12-1.jpg

This might be my prettiest machine. I found it not long after I read The Typewriter Revolution (which set me off on this maniacal hobby in the first place) in a cardboard box for an AT&T electric typewriter at a Goodwill. It was marked $5, either because it didn’t have its original case, or no one actually looked in the box and assumed it was a most unsexy 80s electric typewriter, or whoever set the price wasn’t a Smith Corona fan.

Overall it was in great shape. A steady electric hum accompanied the crisp and quick clattering of the typebars. But the lowercase and uppercase letters were misaligned, and the motor that powered the typing would periodically shut down before eventually crapping out for good. Also the second “c” in Electric on the front decal was chipped off:

sc-electra12-2.jpg

I gave an amateur’s shot at fixing the alignment, to no avail, and I knew I couldn’t fix the motor on my own. So, because it was such a beauty, and because of the circumstances of its acquisition, I decided to bring it in to one of the few remaining repair shops in Chicagoland to see if it could be rehabilitated. A few weeks later I got it back: the motor ran smoothly and the letters typed true, and on a brand-new ribbon. The grimy keys cleaned up nicely too.

Haven’t been able to find much info on this specific model. (Mine is currently the only Electra 12 on the Typewriter Database.) With a serial number starting 5LE, it’s a slight variation on the Smith Corona Electric Portable 5TEs, though what their differences are I’m not sure. I see the extended 12″ carriage on other portables; honestly I think it looks a bit awkward compared to the carriages that fit the width of their bodies.

But I’m happy to have this one, and have used it for a few morning writing sessions already. It’s an awkward carry without a handled case, so I’m actively looking for one at a decent price. It fits perfectly into my Classic 12’s case, so if I could fit another cheap Smith Corona along those lines that I could use for parts, I’d be golden.

To the hunt!

Adventures in Logbooking

Looking at my logbook, I noticed that I recently had a string of four starred books or movies in a row, the longest streak yet. (It would have been five in a row had I seen Brooklyn before Love & Mercy, which I liked a lot but not star-liked.)

749 Typewriter Revolution, The Richard Polt book 2015 2015 Dec
748 Tangerine Sean S. Baker film 2015 2015 Dec
747 Creed Ryan Coogler film 2015 2015 Dec
746 Winter: Notes from Montana Rick Bass book 1991 2015 Dec

That’s only the second time that’s happened since I started keeping track in 2010. The other was in December 2010:

208 Social Network, The David Fincher film 2010 2010 Dec
207 True Grit Joel and Ethan Coen film 2010 2010 Dec
206 Fighter, The David O. Russell film 2010 2010 Dec
205 Black Swan Darren Aronofsky film 2010 2010 Dec

All four of those films from 2010 made my best-of list that year, and yet I haven’t rewatched any of them besides The Social Network, so I couldn’t say whether they would still remain on my Best of 2010 list if I were to make a new one these five years later. Likewise, Creed and The Typewriter Revolution will make my 2015 lists (with Tangerine just missing the cut), but time will tell if they’ll stay there.

My criteria for earning a star are as diverse as the logbook itself, but my basic interpretation is whether that book or film could end up on my best-of list from whichever year it was made. So both of these streaks could be considered flukes given the inherent subjectivity of star-giving. On the other hand, that both occurred in December makes sense given the abundance of higher quality films in the thick of Oscar season.

With its mix of books and movies, old and new, the 2015 streak seems more unlikely—a conglomeration of providence and serendipity. I’m sure if I were to reread and rematch every movie and book on my list some would lose stars and some would gain them, so I won’t put too much stock in what’s essentially an anomaly. But that’s why I’m glad I started this logging practice: to document a fairly large part of my life, and to catch my first impressions and see how they fare in retrospect.

Still, I found it interesting enough to write a post about, so I have that going for me, which is nice.

Calling All Citations

otter-fishing-wikipedia

The first article that came up when I hit Wikipedia’s “Random Article” button. I’ll call it a win.

Greatly appreciated this post from Jessamyn West promoting the #1Lib1Ref campaign (One Librarian, One Reference), which seeks to get every librarian to add at least one reliable reference source to a Wikipedia article that needs it. Jessamyn:

This helps make Wikipedia better in the process. I added my cite today to the Free Your Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow article. I’m not even trying to be sassy, that is just the page that was handed to me by this great tool that lets you know which articles need citations. I did some Googling, found a Google Book that had some supporting detail for the fact in question, used a book citation tool to turn it into Wikistyle and there you go. I might do two, just in case someone doesn’t have time to add a citation to Wikipedia this week.

Wikipedia is 15 years old today. About a month ago I donated to the Wikimedia Foundation for the first time during one of their fundraisers, because I’ve been a cheapskate freeloader for long enough. I’ve been using it since high school, when it started getting big and quickly became anathema to cite in any academic or “serious” setting, given its unreliability as an authoritative source. (As an editor at my college paper I once received a story from a staff writer that began “According to Wikipedia…” Headdesk.)

But for a trivia-brain like me, Wikipedia was and remains a delectable time-suck of arcana, and a handy resource I consult more frequently than I realize. For looking up films, for instance, I much prefer its spartan UI and rigid structure to the once-helpful but now-bloated and gaudy IMDb. And though Goodreads is usually my first stop for book ratings and reviews, the sidebar for a well-enough-known book has all the metadata I’d usually need. In good articles the References and Further Reading sections also make great portals to related topics and sources you didn’t realize you were interested in.

I once read somewhere that Wikipedia is like the opposite of communism: it doesn’t work in theory but somehow works in practice. That it hasn’t fizzled out already is a minor miracle, a credit largely due to the many volunteer editors who keep it running (and probably to enough of those annoying fundraising banners that show up in increasingly creative and strident ways). I’ve made edits very sporadically over the years—mostly cosmetic ones like italicizing titles and correcting links—but once while in a Wiki-rabbit-hole I excised a vicious ad hominem comment someone had written on Taylor Momsen’s page, which was pretty sparse at the time and therefore more liable to vandalism.

Speaking of: the site has issues, clearly. Who knows how much longer it’ll be around in its current form. Like the rest of the open web, I hope it lasts and evolves into a sustainable and dependent force for good. This #1Lib1Ref challenge is a good opportunity for librarians like me to be more proactive in this weird and wonderful experiment, if only as a professional obligation.

So thanks Jimmy for 15 years and counting. In celebration I will click the Random Article button (the site’s best feature) 15 times and only 15 times. I’ve got stuff to do after all.

Typewriter Files: 1959 Royal Futura 800

I don’t remember how long ago this 1959 Royal Futura 800 typewriter came into my possession, but I know it sat in my old room at my parents’ place for about a decade before, in my recent typewriter mania, I eagerly reclaimed it for examination, restoration, and loving use.

As outwardly there wasn’t much wrong with it, the Before shot I took looks quite similar to the After:

royal-futura1

The body is undamaged and mostly quite shiny all the way around. Mechanically it’s sound too, typing smoothly and with no apparent malfunctions. Its insides, however, were filthy: cat hair, dried padding dust, and the detritus of decades had accumulated on its oiled architecture. Initially I was ill-equipped for the thorough clean job it needed, but after a quick trip to Walgreens my supply cache was filled with Q-tips, cotton wiping pads, a compressed air can for spraying out hard-to-reach areas, and a pen light for peering into the innards.

royal-futura2

Pre-cleaning serial number.

Piece by piece I went along and wiped down what I could, making sure not to disturb any of the mechanisms. The very middle section, wedged between the escapement and the carriage, was a tough get. Without taking the whole machine apart — a process I feared that, past a certain point, I wouldn’t be able to recover from — I couldn’t touch every piece that needed cleaning, but with the compressed air can and some swabs I got to damn near everything I could. Since nothing was obstructing the machinations I figured I’d leave good-enough alone.

The most difficult parts to clean were the glue remnants from the padding pieces, on the removable side pieces and inside the ribbon cover (which pops out when you push the red Royal logo in front):

royal-futura5

The aged padding crumbled off at the slightest touch (unfortunately falling into the body), but the hardened glue remained recalcitrant, even after a few rounds of goo remover and scraping. I could have kept at it but wanted to move on, so I just made sure the pieces were otherwise clean.

As this was my first major typewriter clean-up project, I learned a lot. Though each typewriter make and model will present its own challenges, the biggest mistake I made with the Futura will apply to every typewriter I work on. I realized only after it was too late that I didn’t make note of which screws went where. During disassembly I thought “The black ones go here” and “the short silver ones go here”; but a day later, after I’d spent so much time and energy inside the thing, as I was bringing the body pieces together I realized my error. Oh crap, where do these go? Trial and error got me the rest of the way and all systems returned to order eventually, but I was very happy when it finally reconstituted and typed without a hitch.

The low-grade panic I felt did inspire my first lesson: Document. Right after the Futura was restored back to health, I put a bunch of loose leaf paper into a three-ring binder, wrote Royal Futura 800 atop the first page, and took notes on everything I’d done and seen: initial impressions and observations, notable blemishes and potential problem spots, its serial number, and suggestions for further repairs and cleaning. As I’d be moving on to other typewriters, I didn’t want to start mixing up what I did on which machine and which required which maintenance. I’ll do a typeface sample on each of the notes pages, too, so I can compare them at a glance.

royal-futura4

The Futura came with an orange wooden case lined with a golden metal trim, but it was missing its handle, making it a cumbersome carry. Someone in the Typewriter Facebook group mentioned using a belt as a replacement, so I got a thin leather belt (that unfortunately doesn’t match very well, but it was free, so I have that going for me) and wound it around the remaining metal loops. Works great.

Finally, using the Typewriter Database I narrowed down the manufacture date of the machine to 1959, based on its serial number. I then uploaded it as my first gallery on my Typewriter Database page. Still need to add a few more photos and a typeface specimen, but for now I’ll enjoy notching my first typewriter before quickly moving on to the next.

Until next type…

royal-futura3

The Idea Owl approves.

All You Can Do Is Type

I’ve gone a little typewriter mad lately. In addition to my grandma’s IBM Selectric I, I’ve recently acquired a Smith-Corona Classic 12, Royal Futura 800, Rover 5000 Super deLuxe, Smith-Corona Skyriter, and a Smith-Corona Electra 12. All at thrift stores or antique shops and all for $30 or less. They are all fixer-uppers in one way or another, though mostly just need cleaning.

Tonight I banged out a first draft of an upcoming review on the Futura. It was strange. My style of writing with word processors consists of starting from somewhere in the middle of my thoughts and editing as I write. But I can’t do that on a typewriter. All I can do is write and compile my thoughts as they come, and save the editing for the computer. An occasional change of habits is good, I think, for the soul and for the craft.

Fourteen Memories

Fourteen scattered memories, in no particular order, written at whim on the occasion of my birthday on the fourteenth of September.

1. Every summer, on their way down to or up from Texas, Grandma Helen and Grandpa Cliff stayed with us in Madison for a few days. Knowing they’d be there when I got home from school added an extra buzz to the day they arrived. I’d run the four blocks from school, which suddenly in my anticipation seemed so much longer than usual. Grandma would have Bugle chips and bags of cookies and homemade mounds bars. Mornings were different when they stayed with us because of the coffee; it was usually rare because only Dad drank it, but when Cliff and Helen were visiting it was brewed every morning and accompanied Cliff’s newspaper and crossword.

2. We vacationed in Florida one winter after Grandma LaVonne died. It was, as far as I can recall, my first Christmas without snow, without cold, and without everything that constituted the Christmas season. Except for It’s a Wonderful Life. Mom and dad insisted we still watch it on Christmas Eve as usual, because we had to. Dad even called the hotel to make sure they had a VCR.

3. Summer of 2012 I was in grad school and worked as a graduate assistant in residence life. One weekend an epic power outage left us campus-dwelling staff, including the student workers, without electricity or air conditioning. I and the other hall directors used our iPhone group chat to share updates, coordinate actions, and vent against ComEd and the school administration. Some of us flocked to the packed public library to charge our devices and await the impending darkness. For dinner that first night I heated a can of soup by rigging a stove grill above a candle. The next day, still unsure when the power would be restored, I showered in one of residence hall’s communal bathrooms that still had power, and prepared for another stuffy night. The power returned at 9pm.

4. My roommate freshman year had a summer job that got him up very early, so most mornings when I woke up around 7 a.m., he’d already be fully dressed, lying on his fully made bed and watching TV. Sometimes it was the Strongman competition or Saved By the Bell, but usually it was Dawson’s Creek. Soon enough that theme song became my alarm clock.

5. At summer camp we had 24 hours off between Saturday afternoon—after the kids left and we cleaned everything up—and Sunday afternoon when the new group arrived. One Saturday I drove all the way across Madison with a fellow camp counselor to see the movie Once at Westgate Cinema. We were so enamored with it that when we returned to camp I tickled out “Falling Slowly” on the piano and we sang the duet.

6. Along with Westgate Cinema, in high school I frequented the old Hilldale Theatre on Midvale to see the smaller, independent films Marcus Cinema didn’t show. Going to a showing of Brick with some friends, I didn’t realize when I walked up to the ticket counter that my box of Sour Patch Kids was still in my hand rather than stashed away in my pocket. “You can’t bring those in,” the guy said. I tried to convince him otherwise, but he wasn’t having it. So I grumpily returned to my car, put the box in the glove department, and texted my on-the-way friends to grab it from my car when they arrived and sneak it in for me. Mission accomplished, and Brick blew our minds.

7. One night at camp the middle-schoolers decided they want to sleep outside. They started bringing their bunk mattresses out but then Rich, a camp supervisor, said no, if they were going to sleep outside they had to own it and not use mattresses, only their sleeping bags and a pillow. So they did, and another counselor and I stayed out with them. As they settled in I ruminated aloud on the beautiful starry sky above us, about how vast and inscrutable the universe seemed. They’d quieted and begun to doze when Rich, in a typical bout of wild whimsy, came screaming by our quiet flock of preteens in the camp’s golf cart, honking and flashing his lights, just cuz. It took a lot longer to get the boys to sleep again—which we pointed out to Rich repeatedly the next day—but sleep they eventually did. I awoke with the early summer dawn and, with the other counselor standing guard over the sleepers, walked to the camp’s tranquil lakeshore to watch the sun rise through the distant treeline.

8. Senior year of high school my band played a gig at my high school. I was working that evening at my Copps cashier job and realized only once I got to work that I was scheduled to work past the time the gig was supposed to start. I panicked, but realized fate was on my side: the nice manager was working that night. I asked if I could cut out early, and she said we’d have to see how busy it was later. The time came and it wasn’t slow, but she said I could go. As I dashed out of the store I saw her bagging the groceries at her own station and realized she’d be short-staffed the rest of the night but still let me go. My feelings of gratitude quickly dissolved into a vat of anxiety as I hopped into my Toyota Corolla and gunned the drive to my high school, which was luckily short and not monitored by police. I bolted inside and saw my bandmates standing on stage waiting to play, their instruments in hand and my drum kit waiting for me. Out of breath I picked up my sticks, slid onto my throne, and clicked off our first song.

9. After I returned from Colombia I was a month away from zeroing out my checking and savings accounts when I got a call from the Butera grocery store across the street offering me a cashier job. I said yes because I had to. It wasn’t bad except for it being a cashier job. But four and a half years after getting that lucky break from Copps I got another one from Butera: on February 6, 2011, I was scheduled from 12 to 5pm, instead of the usual 12 to 7pm. This was important because on February 6, 2011, the Packers were playing in Super Bowl XLV at 5:30pm. I was able to dash home, change into my yellow Donald Driver jersey, and get a ride from friends to the Super Bowl party where I’d get to witness for the second time the Packers bring the Lombardi home.

10. I was angry about something—probably my parents, as is common for middle-schoolers. I was also in a yo-yo phase, so I was holding the end of an unwound yo-yo when in my anger I slammed the door to my room and impulsively decided to use the object in my hand as an outlet for my adolescent rage. My idea was to whip it over my head and down onto my bed like a sledgehammer, but at the vertex of its arc the yo-yo crashed into one of the opaque glass lightbulb shades on the overhead fan. The bulb remained intact, but to this day it’s missing its cover. Deciding that whatever animus existed between my parents and me would be exacerbated by this, I never told them what had happened.

11. One night at Copps grocery store, I was working the register when a little before 9pm a classmate from high school bolted through the automatic sliding doors. In Wisconsin liquor sales end at 9—the register wouldn’t even allow you to scan liquor of any kind once the clock struck 9—so it was common to have a small rush around this time. My classmate hustled past me and with a smile said, “I’m gonna get liquor, OK?” Thinking I misheard him, I casually nodded as he disappeared behind the corner. He quickly reemerged at my register with a 24-pack of whatever cheap swill high schoolers drink and pulled out his fake ID. Suddenly realizing he was serious, I said, “Dude, I can’t sell this to you.” I could have. It was slow; my manager was at the other end of the registers in the only other open lane. But either out of principle or not wanting to be taken for a schmuck just because this kid was in the cool crowd and I was in band, I reiterated: “I know who you are. I can’t sell you this.” He was more shocked than angry I think, surprised a peer wasn’t playing along. “You’re sure…” he followed. “Yeah, sorry man,” I replied. And he walked out. I wondered who was waiting for him in the car, whose night I just ruined because they wouldn’t have time to get to another store before liquor sales ended. But now I think I did them a favor. A night without Keystone Light is a good night indeed.

12. New Year’s Eve, 2011. I was living on campus for graduate school, but didn’t have a girlfriend so I didn’t have plans. Luckily my on-campus friends Tone and Brian didn’t have plans either, so we decided to drive around awhile and listen to the radio. When “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” came on, Tone asked if it made me think of anyone special, and I said I had someone in mind. (My future wife.) Deciding we should have a comfort night, we stopped to get Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream and Late Night Snack and a Redbox before returning to campus. We got into our pajamas and watched the horrible Horrible Bosses while eating ice cream. I left at 11pm and went to sleep.

13. On a bright and warm weekday September morning, I had Whiskeytown National Recreation Area to myself, or so it seemed. Newly unemployed, I’d flown to Redding to visit friends, see some mountains, and find whatever else I was looking for on what ended up being a much-needed salubrious stay. I didn’t see a soul as a drove my rental to the Brandy Creek Falls trailhead and parked. On the solo hike to the falls (which I wrote about here), I found silence. I found vistas that I photographed once but no more. At the falls I found a rock to sit on astride the stream. I read, dozed a bit, let the water’s whooshing chorus drown everything else out, and then I walked back.

14. Meeting Henry Winkler.

Wherein I Missed Third-Grade Field Day and Encountered Cosmic Futility

bart-chalkboard

In third grade I was on a three-strike system at school. Three infractions and I’d miss a fun class event. I was an absent-minded kid, prone to forget things at home like homework or a slip needing a signature or an extra pair of shoes to wear at school during winter. (I remember at least one day of walking around in winter boots all day.) This was also the first year I wasn’t in the same class as my twin sister, who, everyone involved quickly realized, was the one who reminded me about things like homework and signatures and winter boots.

My two co-teachers apparently thought this punitive system would make me a better student, more disciplined and less forgetful. There was no limit to the number of infractions I could receive and therefore no limit to the number of events I could miss. Theoretically this should motivate a kid, even one as young and flighty as me at the time, to become more disciplined so as not to miss fun activities.

Theoretically.

First, I missed Cave Day, the culmination of the unit on caves. The classroom was decorated like a dark cave, paper stalagmites and stalactites protruding from the ceiling and walls and a cool tunnel leading to the door you had to crawl through to get in and out of the room. I was not allowed to participate in the fun cave-related activities at all that day. Instead I was sent to the principal’s office to complete what was essentially busywork. (Insult, meet injury: at one point I needed to go into the classroom to get something—probably more busywork—but I had to crawl through the awesome tunnel and see the activities going on, yet not participate in them. I felt like a leper. A bitter leper.)

Second, I missed Jungle Day, which was a huge day in my elementary school. Huge. They’d bring (what felt like then) enormous jungle gyms into the gymnasium and turn the byzantine structures into a colorful, interlocking jungle, crawling with paper vines and canopies and animals that healed you if you got “bit” by a snake while climbing through the maze. Jungle Day was off-the-chain fun in my previous years, but I was yet again on-the-chain in my classroom not participating in it.

Finally, I missed Field Day. Everyone remembers Field Day because it was the last big event of the school year. It was the pinnacle, the prize for making it through the year. We played the entire day: relay races, water games, snacks galore… that’s what we lived for. Yet there I was in—you guessed it—my classroom doing—you guessed it—busywork. There was no point in me being there. The school year was over. I didn’t flunk the grade. Yet there I slouched beneath the flickering florescent lights, toiling through Lord knows what kind of fill-in-the-blank pabulum, and encountering for the first time in my young life the concept of cosmic futility. My sister, pitying her woeful twin, snuck away from Field Day and visited me as if I were in prison. She brought me a popsicle from the festivities, though I’m not sure how she smuggled it past the guards.

So whose fault was this? If we’re getting legalistic here, it was mine. Within the parameters set for my circumstances, I failed to meet the agreed upon standards of behavior. But did these punishments fit the crimes? Or were my teachers overzealous? I’d like some perspective on this, especially from teachers, because, clearly, I’m still bitter twenty years later about this series of unfortunate events. I wonder if my teachers were under some kind of pressure, even before No Child Left Behind and Common Core, to get me up to snuff. Or maybe it was their own idea.

Regardless, the thing about Edna Krabapple having Bart Simpson write a sentence on the chalkboard over and over is that it doesn’t work. It’s not going to reform Bart, and it’s going to make him resent school, teachers, and exercises in cosmic futility. Luckily, that didn’t happen to me (except for resenting exercises in cosmic futility). I mostly enjoyed my K-12 education and benefitted from it, and after getting a bachelor’s and master’s degree I’m currently employed in a profession I like. So why does this continue to stick in my craw?

I got a measure of clarity a few years ago when I visited that school for the first time since I left it in 1998. It was the end of summer, so the school was open for orientation and teachers meetings. My dad and I stopped by the administration offices first so I could ask permission to walk around and thus not become the pair of unknown men wandering an elementary school. The clutch of teachers chatting around the front desk asked who I was; I told them my name and those of my sisters, and one teacher said she remembered us. I rattled off the names of the teachers I had there over the years, and when I mentioned my third-grade teachers, specifically the one I disliked the most, one of the teachers present gave a look to another, as if to say: “Oh, that one…”

And suddenly I realized I, perhaps, wasn’t alone. Maybe Mrs. Three-Strikes had rubbed other teachers the wrong way too, made their lives unpleasant all those years ago. I greatly desired to share my tale of woe with those present, to commiserate and swap stories from the trenches, but decided against it. Instead, I wandered the empty halls, reminiscing about the many better times I’d had at the school that had hardly changed at all since I left it.

The library at the center of the school, now with newer books and no catalog, was still where my classmates and I had coveted Goosebumps books almost as much as Warheads candy. The gym, now seeming a lot smaller after I’d grown a foot or two, was still where once a year the wilderness of Jungle Day had reigned. The cafeteria, now with some upgraded kitchen appliances, was still where in fourth grade I lost in the sudden-death overtime finals of the all-school Geography Bee (congrats, Valerie). The computer lab, now replete with sleek, slim computers, was still where I learned how to use MS Paint on Windows 95.

It’s easy to look back through a telescope with the rose-colored lenses of memory and recall the good times, as I did while taking a literal walk through memory lane. But looking at specific moments through the wrong end of the telescope, as perhaps I’ve done with my misadventures in third grade, can  produce a distorted view disproportionate to everything around it. My tenure at that school was one collective memory of many that came before and after. It was a single ring in a tree that’s still adding layers of experience—triumphs and disappointments and everything in between—from other kids who have walked the same hallways I did.

Still, I’ll bet they got to go to Field Day.

How to Feel Small

I like things that make me feel small.

Like If The Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, a “tediously accurate scale model of the solar system” that, as you scroll horizontally, reveals the vast span of our neighborhood:
moon

Or Why Time Flies, a philosophical exploration of our fungible awareness of time:
time

Or The Scale of the Universe (my favorite), which, as you zoom in and out, shows the comparative sizes of all creation, from the largest supercluster to the smallest neutrino (notice how everything at some point is the same size):
scale

Or Lightyear.fm, a “journey through space, time & music” that plays songs of the past according to how far their waves have traveled from Earth since they were released:
lightyear