In other news...

The Washington Post has an intricate examination of the five second rule of eating dropped food. Apparently Clemson has done a (truly groundbreaking) study revealed that food can acquire bacteria from the floor in less than five seconds. But, the article argues, this rule is more about desire than about reality.


Those of you who know me in the extra-bloggery world know that, in defiance of the facts that I am in my late twenties, have lived a significant period of my life in the south, and spent quite a bit of time in Los Angeles in recent years, I am a non-driver. I am not in possession of a driver's license, although I did, for a terrifying time, have a learner's permit. If I were in some kind of serial-killer-chasing-me-have-to-escape-in-this-car-right-now type situation, I could drive - I have the ability to operate a motor vehicle, either standard (although it has been a while) or automatic - but in every other life situation I do not, for reasons having to do with profound anxiety, lack of extreme need, persistent pennilessness, and, um, environmentalism (this last is severely undermined by how frequently I fly. Which may, come to think of it, have something to do with how penniless I am). So, with the much appreciated help of very indulgent friends who take me to the grocery store and airport from time to time, I have become increasingly savvy about how to get through life in a profound state of carlessness. In fact, from time to time, when visiting D or family, I realize that I haven't actually been in a car in months, a realization that is mostly triggered, I am sad to say, by extreme motion sickness.

This long preamble is meant to introduce a quite fascinating (especially if they move forward on some of their promised innovations) website called Walk Score, which will assess your neighborhood for its walkability. Unfortunately, they define walkability by proximity to various facilities (stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc.) rather than by safety, prevalence of pedestrian usage, size of streets and other (harder to fit into an algorithm) factors. This might be why our LA neighborhood scored in the very reputable high 70s, despite being right in the middle of one of the world's most unwalkable cities. Nonetheless, I have been waiting for the web to pay more attention to pedestrians for many years (when will there be a website along the lines of Google Maps or Mapquest that tells you how long it would take a sedately paced person to WALK from one point to another instead of driving???), so I am delighted to get a hold of Walk Score.


I have mentioned before how fascinating I find the examination of the relationship between reading's public and private aspects in the Dogeared Project. An endeavor called Book Inscriptions provides a different approach to the same issue, providing photographs of notes and missives written inside books that have later wandered free of their original owners. The inscriptions are enthralling, and I felt a curious sense of intrusion reading them, as if I was trespassing into someone's private correspondence. At the same time, I am aware that books are artifacts that roam more freely and publicly than any private papers ever could/should - they survive their original owners and (unfaithful things) go on to form new relationships quite heartlessly.


My favorite thing I've read today, from an interview with Simon Van Booy at Estella's Revenge:

I was robbed in Athens at gunpoint. It was midnight and I took a different path from my usual route, through a park. They held a gun to me and patted me down, stripped me of everything they considered valuable. I don’t know if the gun had bullets, but the man who took my wallet came back. After the man who held the gun on me left, he came back and gave me the picture of my girlfriend from my wallet.

There have other daily experiences of verse since I last wrote, but let me give you instead the beginning of today's poem, "I Choke on Mortality and Wish for Something Less Orange" by Maggie Rowe (from the June 2007 issue of The Sun):
A week before reading of the sad incident in the paper
I have a dream in which I pick orange day-lily petals from the floor,
try to eat them, and choke. According to my friend Clare
I am already dead, unable to swallow the fact of the brevity of life: yes.

In the park my dog and I examine a butterfly as blue
as human milk, rows of jet points pricking
out the edges of its wings. My dog twitches forward
and swallows it. [...]

Wonderful (and frought) relationship to color this poem has, most pointedly in the very odd simile involving human milk. For a poem about death, there is a tremendous amount of fecundity floating about (perhaps unsurprisingly). And then, of course, there is the prevalent image of swallowing, choking, accepting knowledge (accepting the world) into your consciousness figured as accepting it into your body.

It is also possible that I have a soft spot for the poem because I once (teenaged) wrote a sonnet involving tiger lilies that I thought (at the time - it is now lost, mercifully) was a piece of intricate brilliance. One of the most charming things about my teenaged years was that I used to while away the hour of physics class writing sonnets. Am I a totally different person now?


Ugh. So today is devoted to revising a writing sample/article, and I am feeling both efficient and battered (I am about halfway through my task). Since last I wrote I have finished two works of epic scale (David Copperfield and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). The review I started of the latter has stalled out after several paragraphs in which I somehow managed to talk exclusively about Shakespeare, and barely mention J.K. Rowling's novels. Now I am working and lurking (a surprising effective combination), waiting for the mail to bring the first two ARCs I have ever received (when, oh when, will they arrive??).

One Response so far.

  1. That Walk Score website is neat! Of course, my neighborhood ranked 26/100, an abysmal score, but probably still higher than it should be. Especially considering it included one 'grocery store' in walking distance: Rogers Beer and Wine. Ha! After not driving for 8+ years, we were forced to buy a car after moving to Baltimore. Boo.

    I also stumbled upon the Book Inscriptions blog last week, a very cool concept.

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