I walk. A lot. For the past six years, I’ve been aiming for a minimum of 10,000 steps a day, which is just under five miles.
Over the past year, dating from March 1, 2020 (a couple of weeks before the California Bay Area shut down for the pandemic), I’ve walked about 1,600 miles.
By comparison, I’ve driven my car about 500 miles during the same period.
1,600 miles is actually somewhat less than I usually do in a year. I had to cut back for a couple of months this winter because I was having trouble with my left leg. (I suspect sciatica, though I haven’t seen a doctor because it wasn’t hurting bad enough to brave medical treatment during a pandemic. And now it seems to be going away.)
Still, I walked more than triple the car miles, despite the fact that I was using the car to run errands because I was buying more at the store than I could carry home on foot and picking up farm boxes instead of leisurely pursuing the stalls at the farmers market.
In a normal year, I would have balanced all that out with a lot of public transit, but not this year. In a normal year, I would taken trains and planes to a lot of other places and done my walking there, but this year pretty much all of it has been done within a mile or so of my home.
It has, as they say, been a very strange year. Continue reading “Walking”…
In looking for something else, I came upon an envelope I had taken from my father’s desk when I was clearing out his house. It contains the record of my father’s brief fight with the Wilson Chemical Company on my behalf.
Let me explain: when I was about eight, my brother and I came into a trove of comic books–more than a thousand, previously owned my the son of my mother’s best friend. And in the back of these comic books were ads of all sorts: X-ray specs! make money selling seeds! 150 Civil War soldiers for 99 cents! These ads were crammed full of pictures, with–very often–the words FREE! and GIVEN! in large type.
When I was nine, I filled in the coupon and sent for what I believed was a FREE! signet ring. Continue reading “Rob Robins, Scamfighter”…
This post is short, because I’m busy learning…
One of the odd side effects of the strange times in which we live is the number of conferences that have been transferred online. I’m using some of them to update old knowledge and understand subjects better. I’ve done best in this respect in learning about the Middle Ages. I’m on all the right lists, you see, because of my curious career.
My ethnohistory began as Medieval. I research modern culture right now, but I began trying to understand human beings by looking at who we were hundreds of years ago. This and the conferences open many doors to knowledge, for there is an amazing meeting of archaeology and history right now, and it’s changing what we know about the past.
Last year I attended a conference in Dublin that turned what I knew about houses in the Early Middle Ages upside down and inside out. Thatched houses without chimneys are, it turns out, neither full of smoke nor riddled with infestations. They breathe, through the thatch, and the air is clear and comfortable. From the outside, the smoke comes through the thatch, like a mist rising.
Right now, I’m attending workshops on Medieval Jewish craftspeople. One can’t avoid hearing about the effects of pogroms and mass murders (in Cologne after the Black Death, for example), but the focus is on what people did with their lives. I’m learning about bakers and goldsmiths, silk workers and bookbinders.
I’m going to do as much learning as I can, while things are online, for normally I’m the other side of the world and can only dream of these events.