Twenty years past

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversay of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York. You know this, of course. This weekend, many corners of the internet will be commemorating the occasion.

I have never been one to look back on the event in great detail. Many people do (Anil Dash, for example, every year) and I appreciate their reflections without feeling much need or desire to add my own. I lived it, I wrote down my reactions in real time, and for me, that has been enough.

Speaking of which, my memories of the day and the week were chronicled here on the Ideapad, and I still recommend reading them; the page is both contemplative and raw, and it holds up. Also, for really raw writing about the event, my friend Adam’s firsthand writeup is chastening.

At the newsstand

It was a blazingly hot summer afternoon as I walked the dog. We walked down Broadway, where an electronic sign announced that both interstate lottery jackpots were around a quarter-billion dollars. I felt like daydreaming on my dog walk, so I stopped at the newsstand with the lottery terminal.

“One Mega Millions and one Powerball, please,” I said to the older man working the newsstand.

“One of each?” he said.

“Sure,” I replied, “maybe they’ll both come in.”

He paused a beat while the tickets printed. “One is enough,” he said.

Wasabi the Best in Show winner

Few things make me more giddy than seeing a Pekingese, so when a gorgeous Pekingese takes Best in Show at Westminster, I’m pretty much in peak dog-lover form.

This is Wasabi:

Yes! Make my day, my week, little new best friend of mine.

A winning Peke is not rare; it hasn’t even been that long. My previous BFF Pekingese Malachy won Westminster in 2012, and then there’s the (in)famous Danny, who won Crufts (the British equivalent of Westminster) in 2003, only to be accused of having had cosmetic surgery. He was exonerated, as all good pups should be.

Congrats to Wasabi, and thank you for starting my week off with a grin.

An incomplete list of the incomplete lists I’ve posted here over the years

An incomplete list of things our year-old Labradoodle chewed up while left home alone, July 2019

An incomplete list of things my son has figured out how to spin since discovering the Beyblade

An incomplete list of words starting with the letter “K” as suggested by the K-112 class at PS 87 this morning

An incomplete list of plot twists crammed into the 15-episode first season of ‘Smash’

An Incomplete List of Rock Stars I’ve Met in Unexpected Places

An Incomplete List Of Famous People I’ve Stood Next To In Public Restrooms

Things my dog has eaten

I also have a draft (incomplete) list of an incomplete list of animals we’ve been told our white-and-black Australian Labradoodle looks like (Dalmatian, cow, panda bear, etc.).

“You should have your own place in the internet.”

Hear hear! There’s a reason you can still read my twentieth-century writings, in their original format, at their original URLs, and it has everything to do with many of the points in this essay about blogging on one’s own website. (Not that you should read my old blog posts, but some of them are still fun.)

Deep in the era of essential/evil/ephemeral social media, having your own little corner of the internet is still a wondeful thing.

(Via Longboard)

Day 67

Yesterday my wife and I had a brief argument over what day of the week it was.

I’ve started adding little things to my calendar just to keep track of time. Normally, it keeps track of what I do: non-work activities, kid stuff, social plans. Now, of course, most of that is shot. A few weeks ago I looked at my calendar and saw nothing. And suddenly, I had no idea what went on those days. It was unsettling.

We joke about how life has become a blur, how days of the week no longer have meaning, that maybe I need to bring back the “Feels Like” Forecast, only it won’t say anything. But it’s true: without pacing, life really does blur together, sometimes for good (two-week vacation, anyone?) and other times, not.

So now my calendar includes the mundane. “Finish jigsaw puzzle.” “Costco delivery.” “Cronchy potatoes.” Things that otherwise wouldn’t matter, but now do. Because they give life structure: meaning, progress, momentum.

I am grateful for work, for my wife’s work, for my kids’ school, not just for the obvious (growth, interaction, income) but because we benefit from the pacing. Even intra-day: when the boys have class after lunch, the whole day feels better, because there’s a reason for them to engage in the afternoons. Yesterday they managed to while away 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in sprawling online playdates, more or less, and came out of them dazed and blinkering. Should we spend the summer in WFH and without camp, we’re going to have a robust activity schedule. Again: structure.

As with my last post, though, I have little to complain about. The boys are doing great in school, the missus is producing amazing things, the dog has learned how to fist bump, our extended family is safe and sound. I’m at peace with the monotony while we await our emergence from it.

Day 47

In our household, the key to keeping spirits high is soft drinks.

Since heading into isolation mode, we have spared no expense in keeping the carbonated and sweetened refreshments flowing. It’s an easy way to get a kick of energy, or a happy little mouth tingle, or just a change of pace from the pitcher of Brita in the fridge.

It would be hard to overstate our saturation. We have, in the house right now, one or more of the following, many in cases: Diet Coke, Coke Zero, caffeine free Diet Coke, Honest Tea, diet Snapple, Arizona Arnold Palmer light tea, Sparkling Poland Spring, Vintage seltzer, four flavors of Polar seltzer, three flavors of LaCroix, three flavors of Bai, Gatorade, Coca-Cola and Canada Dry ginger ale. We had some San Pellegrino, too, but we ran out.

Since March 14 we have been in the suburbs, my very busy wife and our rather accommodating sons and our food-stealing dog and me, rather comfortably ensconced in a large house with a ping-pong table and plenty of space and decent wifi and, thanks to some quick last-minute thinking, a brand new basketball hoop in the driveway.

Of course, like everyone else who left city apartments for houses as the crisis approached, we only have parts of our existence, despite the surfeit of seltzer. Limited clothing, limited toys and games, no household projects to take care of, a general sense of mild displacement. On par, though, we’re really quite okay.

When 9/11 happened, I was an active blogger in the early days of blogging, and that activity was core to my existence. My posts came daily, a way of communicating, a way of coping. When we began to experience life in the novel coronavirus era, I expected to do the same.

Yet I have not. I’m posting a little bit on social media, and chatting: on various forums and in WhatsApp and Zoom. But that’s all. It turns out my emotional strength is being utilized differently. I’m supporting my children, my wife, my colleagues and extended family, including some who have dealt with the virus.

Also, unlike 9/11, which was a shock, the coronavirus is a rolling tide, with a continual worry about the near future, yet very little that’s imminent. I often find myself completely spent by 9 p.m., wanting only to watch old reruns on cable TV and assemble jigsaw puzzles, rather than expend more effort into, say, extemporaneous composition. (Case in point: when I began drafting this essay, the title was Day 38.) Unlike September 11, when we literally watched and smelled the disaster, my experience has been more removed. I am grateful for that, and for my six family members and friends who have already recovered from the virus.

In my household, we are all healthy; we’re sleeping in a bit; we are at work and at school, in routines that are starting to feel routine. I’ve been very good (read lucky) at securing food delivery slots. The ping-pong and basketball are great. And, because we left home, we have less of our own stuff to fuss over, which leads to lots of time spent just playing games with the kids and cooking. And consuming soft drinks.

So, yeah, I’m doing okay. I hope you are, too. Stay safe in there.

As you do

The scene: a crowded 1 train at rush hour, boarded at 14th Street. I am standing by the door, people crunched in front of me. 

To my right are a man and woman sitting in the seats. They look a little confused.

The train stops at Christopher. The woman half stands up, looking around over many commuters’ heads, nervously. 

From across the train, a disembodied voice calls out. “Not yet! You’re at Christopher Street.”

Relieved, the woman sits back down. The couple gets off at Houston with a thumbs-up to a woman standing by the other door. 

Looking back

Last month, the Ideapad turned 20. Twenty years is a long time to do anything, as many of my fellow early bloggers can attest. Those who have kept at it since the turn of the century have my appreciation, not only as like-minded fellows, but also for maintaining the independent spirit of the early web, where our dreams were self-made and limitless.

I have on my server a bookmarks list, saved out of some version Netscape or Internet Explorer, that is now fifteen years old (May 6, 2003, to be exact). It’s a nice flat HTML file so all the links in it are clickable. To celebrate two decades of blogging, I thought I’d republish the list as-is, click through to all the blogs I once had bookmarked, and report on them here. Let’s see how the independent web of 2003 has persisted to 2018! (Hint: it’s doing pretty darned well, all things considered.)

Key:
Still publishing!—has posted in the past 12 months
Maybe still publishing—live with posts, but none in 2018
In amber—not active, but defending the web from linkrot
N.B. Many of the links here are still active but don’t point to the pages they did back then. Caveat clicker.

Blogroll

37signals’ Signal vs. Noise Still publishing!
Anil Dash Still publishing!
Nick Denton
Boing Boing … Wonderful Things Still publishing!
kottke.org Still publishing!
WebWord.com
megnut In amber
Noise Between Stations Maybe still publishing!
The Morning News Still publishing!
sippey.com Maybe still publishing
Mighty Girl Still publishing!
whatever, whenever
nothing, and lots of it Still publishing!
Textism
Andre Torrez Still publishing!
b-may
Ftrain_ Main Ftrain Maybe still publishing
defective yeti
Witold Riedel NYC Still publishing! (over here)
bazima chronicles
hello, kitten.
DS.ORG
Izzle! Izzle pfaff! In amber
MrBarrett.com
Mastication is normal
petit hiboux .. the owl in winter. In amber
peterme.com Still publishing!
Choire Sicha
East West Magazine

Not Updated Daily

Cardhouse Still publishing!
50 cups of coffee _ strange brew _ never the same girl twice
metascene– There ain’t no Sanity Clause
stating the obvious In amber
maybe i still am!
Acts of Volition Still publishing!
jeans and a t-shirt In amber
What Do I Know
SHARPEWORLD
Waxy.org Still publishing!

Meta

Take a penny, leave a penny. Still–er, never mind
memepool.com
FARK.com Still active!
Blogroots
blogdex – the weblog diffusion index
Daypop Top 40 Links
What’s Happening In amber
Metafilter _ Community Weblog Still active!

More blogs

ToT Days of Self-Contemplation and Soul Searching
ODonnellWeb Still publishing (an email)
evanrose
_usr_bin_girl _ ( just a digital girl ) _ blurbs from the web
somebodydial911
Backup Brain
Scripting News Still publishing!
dangerousmeta! Made it to April 2018
365 Days Project
shellen.com Still publishing!
caterina.net Still publishing!
Q Daily News
Living Can Kill You – saila.com In amber
Jerry Kindall
David Galbraith’s weblog
Nedward von Suckahs In amber
sylloge
muxway
eatonweb blog_ vomiting up the web
The War Against Silence In amber
what is a tigerbunny
Wrap Me Up in It
misc., etc.

Internet, Design, UI blogs

SAP Design Guild In amber
bBlog_ Business intelligence _ XPLANE
Boxes and Arrows
In My Experience… Home In amber
evolt.org
XPLANE _ xblog (The visual thinking weblog.)
Joel on Software Still publishing!
ia- news for information architects
holovaty.com Still publishing!
dive into mark
Daring Fireball Still publishing!

 

Plus ça change

Glaser’s Bake Shop closed on Sunday after 116 years in business.

My first apartment in New York was across the street from Glaser’s. I discovered them solely by proximity, as one does in Manhattan, particularly in the pre-smartphone days, where a person had to size up an establishment with his five senses.

The unassuming bakery with the aging storefront took a little effort to try, but once I did, I was hooked. Not only on their famous black and white cookies (I’m not even a big fan of the black and white cookie—only theirs) but of the bakery in general, from birthday cakes to the challah they’d bake only on Fridays, when there was sufficient demand.

Glaser’s closing was a retirement, well communicated in advance. I made the foolhardy decision to visit one last time on Saturday, spending [redacted] hours on line with my son to get one last order. It’s something I didn’t do when the Carnegie closed, and it was nice to say farewell. Not so my family’s two favorite restaurants in Greenwich Village, Cho Cho San and Charlie Mom, which both disappeared rather unceremoniously in the past few years, each after more than 20 years in business. We wish we’d been able to say farewell to them, too.

Glaser’s and the restaurants serve as a reminder, however melancholy, of the ever-changing landscape of the city. Yet they’re also an opportunity to celebrate their longevity and wonderfulness. And they provide us with momentum to revisit the things we love about New York.

My employer has an office in midtown Manhattan, three blocks from where I worked at the turn of the century. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that the Ernest Klein supermarket on Sixth Avenue might still be serving lunch, like it did when I worked up the block, fifteen years ago. So I stopped in. They’ve renovated a bit, but they made me the same exact sandwich, with the same exact honey mustard that I used to adore, but last tasted in 2003. A good number of the lunch spots on West 56th are unchanged, too, and I hope to visit them all in turn.

Things change. But not all things change, and not all at once. Savoring those that don’t is worth the effort.

Bus route

I’m at the M79 bus stop on Amsterdam Avenue, where the bus has to hang a left turn before heading crosstown. An elderly couple walks up to the stop, haltingly, looking around a lot, loitering in the street.

Her: “Is this the bus stop?”

Him: “Yes, it is.”

“Do you think this is the one that goes across town?”

“Yes, this is it.”

“It’s a funny stop.”

“I guess it is.”

They look around some more.

The wife turns to me. “Does this bus go across town?”

“Yes,” I say, “this is the crosstown bus.”

“Thank you,” she says.

She turns back to her husband, who looks at her, impassively.

Her: “I believed you…!”