Tiles, trains, and all the magnetic feels

Two of my favorite activities to do with Mr. Two Years Old is play with his train tracks and Magna-Tiles. We started with a relatively small batch of both, but then he got big upgrades for Christmas and from his cousins as hand-me-downs, so recently we’ve been really going wild.

When we first got the tiles we tried to recreate the structure that was on the box. It took about five minutes before we abandoned any attempts to follow the instructions and just went rogue.

There’s the satisfaction in building something with your hands, and then there’s the satisfaction of feeling the magnetic snap as you piece together the different shapes into fantastical structures.

He really gets into the building part, sometimes for a surprisingly long time for a toddler, but then loses interest just as quickly. Whatever grand creation we’d just whipped into being usually gets summarily knocked down or abandoned for another activity.

Build it up, knock it down.

Design Photography

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.


Life as a CTA rail operator

“In that motorcab was my serenity.” Another great Chicago story from WBEZ’s Curious City: what it’s like to operate the L trains.

Books Design Libraries Teach Me How to Dewey

DDC 380-389: We built this city on rock and roads

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 380 Commerce, communications, transport
  • 381 Internal commerce (Domestic trade)
  • 382 International commerce (Foreign trade)
  • 383 Postal communication
  • 384 Communications; Telecommunication
  • 385 Railroad transportation
  • 386 Inland waterway & ferry transportation
  • 387 Water, air, space transportation
  • 388 Transportation; Ground transportation
  • 389 Metrology & standardization

Honestly, I was surprised by how intrigued I was by this section. Typically I’m not one to fall for anything relating to commerce, but I’m officially coming back to this section to find stuff for my to-read shelf. As represented by the Dew3 picks below, I’m often fascinated by how systems, especially concrete and/or historical, come into being. So while I wouldn’t care much for systems of thought or abstract things, I’m all over the Transcontinental Railroad and space transportation, despite my highly limited knowledge of engineering. Or perhaps it’s because of that lack of knowledge that I’m interested. Knowledge rocks! As do trains!

The Dew3:

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires
By Tim Wu
Dewey: 384
Random Sentence: “Is Google destined to arrive at its Napoleonic moment?”

Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869
By Stephen Ambrose
Dewey: 385.0973
Random Sentence: “This was hard work, dangerous and claustrophobic.”

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways
By Earl Swift
Dewey: 388.122
Random Sentence: “Even by his standards, he was stinking rich.”