On SurveyMonkey Blog today

On SurveyMonkey Blog today

This summer, my son Noah (who has always loved trains, buses and trams) published a public transit survey that was taken by people all over the world.

Because of all the places this survey went, Noah got to visit SurveyMonkey headquarters, give a presentation about his survey, and meet lots of awesome data and public transit enthusiasts! Today, I’m writing about all of it on the SurveyMonkey blog. You should come check it out — there’s even a video interview!

Today, we are all the 24th of Brumaire

Wanting to separate pure Revolutionary France from the traditional Julian calendar and its saints’ days (and, you know, its Catholicism), in 1793 the French government instituted a new calendar based on the metric system. The year was still divided into twelve months — though the names were all new and based on Paris weather — but each week (or décade) was 10 days long. Even time was made decimal — each day was 10 hours long, each hour 100 minutes long, etc.

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Ah, Poetry

A long time ago, in another life, I was an English major with an emphasis in Poetry.

That’s right: I’m a poetry major, with all the accolades and untold riches you would imagine.

I wrote poems. Dozens, to add to my dozens of pretentious high school poems. I refined them in seminars and workshops. I even submitted a few and won awards. (Do You Know?™ part of the reason I chose poetry over fiction is that I was convinced I was great at poetry but terrible at fiction. Weird choice is weird.)

Anyhow, it’s very interesting to me that, as soon as I graduated, I never wrote a poem again. Not a single one. I’ve recently been wondering why. Some of my poems were of course terrible, but some of them were not. Poems are short; you’d think I could have dashed off a draft waiting in a carpool line sometime in the last thirteen years.
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Embracing Mediocrity


The perfect day in Monterey

I have always thought of perfectionism as an ideal state. If I was a real perfectionist, everything would be perfect! Going to work full-time changed my perspective on that. Astonishingly, I haven’t been able to be the perfect housewife and perfect mother/wife/daughter/granddaughter/sister while also being the perfect employee. In fact, in 2012, I wasn’t perfect at anything. There are certain things that have fallen horrifyingly through the cracks. Beds are not made. Emails unanswered. Simcha largely unplanned.
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Making and Doing


The most medieval image I could find on my iPhone

This summer, I was reading Zoë Oldenbourg’s The Crusades and this passage struck me like a lightning bolt:

All things considered, the smell of stables is not a great deal more unpleasant than the reek of gasoline fumes, and people from the eleventh century would probably find our own lives hard to bear. When water had to be fetched from a well or spring, fires lit and tended, and the only light came from candles, which were precious and expensive, or resin torches, which provided as much smoke as light, these things were valued at their true worth.

People who traveled on foot were rewarded with learning about the country through which they passed. Men were enriched as well as enslaved by having to struggle for the basic necessities of life, and, in those days, manual dexterity and the spirit of initiative and and invention were comparatively more widespread than they are today. Everything had to be made by hand, and even for the very modest amounts of the time the number of master craftsmen, carpenters, smiths, metalworkers, tinsmiths, sculptors in wood or stone, weavers, potters, saddlers, seamstresses, lacemakers, engravers, shoemakers, and others was proportionately much greater than in our own day.

Oldenbourg articulated something I had felt for a long time: most of the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the course of human history has already been lost.
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