Chad Comello

libraries, culture, typewriters

Know Wonder

I’m sad I missed the TEDx event this year at my alma mater, especially because of its great theme and logo:

tedxncc-knowwonder-concpet-final.jpg

Asleep at the win

cubs-win

This is the story of how I didn’t see the Cubs win the World Series.

I married into Cubs fandom, so I wasn’t emotionally invested in their 2016 World Series run. Still, like everyone in Chicagoland, I followed them throughout those playoffs and every game of the World Series.

Until the bottom of the ninth of Game 7. Cleveland had tied it at 6 before the rain delay hit. It was late, I was so tired, and had no idea how long the rain delay would last. I’m out, I told my wife. Let me know if they win.

Part of me didn’t want to stay up for an unknown time only to watch the Cubs squander this golden opportunity. At that moment, momentum was against them but toward me getting some sleep.

So I did. I actually fell sleep too. Then about 45 minutes later my wife barged into the bedroom: “They won! They won! They won!” Yaaayyyy, I said groggily. I was happy about it. Of course I was: how could anyone except Cleveland fans not be? I came out to watch the celebrations, but soon returned to bed.

I watched the highlights the next day, but never got a full sense of what the 10th inning was like in real time until I watched it on the full-game DVD. It was fun to see the full context around Almora’s crucial tag-up and Rizzo’s ecstatic arrival on third, and how close Edwards Jr. was to clinching it.

The winning out is always fun to watch, but the aftermath reinforced how much less satisfying away wins are to watch in any sport. Though the Cubs fans in the crowd roared mightily after the final out, I wish I could have heard a packed Wrigley Field explode at that same moment. I think I would have stayed up for that.

How to pay your library back

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy stories from the library information desk.

A regular came to the desk with the George Carlin Commemorative Collection DVD she was returning.

“Before I return this,” she said, “I’d like to know how much it was for the library to buy because you bought it based on my request but I didn’t like it, so I’d like to pay the library back.”

Well, that was a first.

I reassured her that she didn’t owe the library anything, that we’d be keeping the item regardless, and that someone else will gain enjoyment from it. The library gets a lot of purchase suggestions, most of which we buy. The rare item that we don’t buy is either too expensive, too esoteric, or otherwise not in keeping with our collection policy.

Nevertheless, she persisted. Even if it wasn’t for that item, she wanted to compensate the library in some way. So I thought of some ways she (and everyone) could do so.

How to pay your library back

1. Use it.

Check things out, early and often. Books, movies, music, magazines, WiFi hotspots, ebooks, whatever your library provides. If fines are keeping you away, ask nicely to have them reduced. Seriously, this might work. (Or just bite the bullet and pay them: see #5.)

2. Get your friends and family to use it.

There’s no better publicity than word-of-mouth. Each of your kids should have their own card. Just watch out for the fines…

3. Make suggestions.

Your library doesn’t have an item or service you think they should? Ask them to get it. Think they should go fine-free or set up automatic renewals? Tell them many libraries are doing it. Comments and suggestions from local cardholders are powerful, especially en masse.

4. Volunteer.

Newly retired? In library school looking for work experience? Odds are your library has something for you to do. Volunteers often get hired because of that proverbial foot in the door.

5. Donate.

Your gently used books and tax-deductible donations are always welcome. You’ll get the money back in the improvements the library can make with it. Donate enough and you might get a meeting room named after you.

Typing it forward

I heard from a neighbor friend that an older gentleman in our community was having trouble with his new typewriter. His advancing dementia made using his computer difficult, so his family got him a Royal Scriptor II from Office Depot to allow him to still write messages.

Let alone that electronic typewriters are not my thing, that the Scriptor was $300 was damn near offensive to me. I told my friend I’d be happy to help diagnose the problem, but also that I’d be just as happy to donate one of my typewriters. This would allow them to get their money back, avoid plugs and cables, and type on something that was made when people knew how to make typewriters.

My Royal Futura 800 seemed like a good option. I was considering selling it, but since I got it for free I thought it would be better to pay it forward. Like Andy’s toys in Toy Story, I think typewriters just want to be used. All the better by someone who will appreciate that use.

OED can you see?

A used books and records store in my town just moved even closer to my place. Today I stopped by and saw a two-volume Oxford English Dictionary Compact Edition. It comes in a case and with its own magnifying glass, because they weren’t kidding when they called it compact:

I exercised enough self-control to pass on it, but one day…

The Big Short in 3 quotes


1. “What needs to be remembered here,” he wrote the next day, after he’d done [the trade], “is that this is $100 million. That’s an insane amount of money. And it just gets thrown around like it’s three digits instead of nine.”


2. In retrospect, their ignorance seems incredible—but, then, an entire financial system was premised on their not knowing, and paying them for this talent.


3. The ability of Wall Street traders to see themselves in their success and their management in their failure would later be echoed, when their firms, which disdained the need for government regulation in good times, insisted on being rescued by government in bad times. Success was individual achievement; failure was a social problem.


— Michael Lewis, The Big Short


See also: “Move along, nothing to see here.”

Final touches in ‘Lost’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’

I don’t know how but Jenny and I jumped back into Parks and Recreation again in season 5 and went all the way to the end. This time through the finale, “One Last Ride”, I saw how much it had in common with the Lost series finale.

*Spoilers ahead*

I’ve written about Lost and Parks and Recreation before, but didn’t see until now that both shows incorporate touch and time travel in their final seasons.

Lost started using “flashforwards” in season four, and then a whole separate timeline through “flashsideways” in the sixth and final season. The main characters don’t know each other in this separate timeline. Only when they incidentally touch each other do the memories of the original timeline and island life flood back, and they are reconciled.

Likewise, the final season of Parks and Rec jumps three years from the previous season, and then even farther in the series finale with glimpses of each character’s far future. These glimpses are also triggered by touch. Both gangs then end up congregated in their show’s final moments, having to say a bittersweet goodbye (albeit in different ways).

That’s probably where the similarities end between these otherwise very different shows. I’m grateful for both of them and their humane, emotionally true resolutions.

(Don’t @ me about the rest of the Lost finale)

Sweet sounding experiences can’t be downloaded

Magazine mashups from Esquire, May 2017. More here.

Music of the moment, ctd

An ongoing series on music I’ve encountered recently.

“Strange American Dream” by Rayland Baxter, Wide Awake
Recently I decided I wanted to find a way to regularly hear new music. If only there were a podcast, I thought, from a renowned media company that featured new music every week. Then I realized that was NPR’s All Songs Considered, a podcast I’ve known about for years but never listened to. The first episode I heard featured this song. I was hooked right away, dove into his back catalog, and then found out he was playing in Chicago exactly when I could make it. It was a great show: he’s like the lovechild of Tom Petty and Steve Miller Band, with a dash of U2.

“Waiting on a Song” by Dan Auerbach, Waiting on a Song
I was on a Black Keys-adjacent kick and realized I hadn’t listened to Auerbach’s solo stuff. I didn’t care for Keep It Hid, but Waiting on a Song is a sparkling mix of pop, rock, and soul.

“To the Great Unknown” by Cloud Cult, The Seeker
A buddy of mine told me about Cloud Cult in the midst of a deep conversation about the mysteries of the universe. Turns out Cloud Cult is a great guide in that journey. I can’t decide if I actually like Minowa’s voice or not, but the combination of stargazing lyrics and indie rock just does something for me.

“The Last Goodbye” by Uncle Earl, Waterloo, Tennessee
Pretty sure I have Abigail Washburn’s Wikipedia page to thank for stumbling upon this band she was in before her solo work. Combining her voice and banjo-fueled folk music can never go wrong.

“Steamboat Whistle Blues” by John Hartford, Aereo-Plain
Without realizing it, the first Hartford song I heard was Sara Watkins’ cover of “Long Hot Summer Days” almost a decade ago. It took until recently to look into his stuff, and the banjo-heavy “newgrass” of Aereo-Plain emerged as the favorite. It has several straight-up weird songs, but this one ain’t one of them:

Fly the L flag

On my way to a concert last night, I noticed the flag-like design of the Chicago L train platform and tracks when viewed from above:

Track, platform, and the space in between. “The space between” being, in essence, what public transportation is.

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