This Is Living — an Exclusive from Loitering: New & Collected Essays by Charles D’Ambrosio

Longreads

Charles D’Ambrosio  | Loitering | November 2014 | 25 minutes (5,836 words)

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Loitering: New & Collected EssaysFor our latest Longreads Exclusive, we are delighted to share “This Is Living,” an essay from Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering: New & Collected Essays, published by Tin House. Subscribe to Tin House and check out their book titles. Buy the book

I was seven and had a leather purse full of silver dollars, both of which, the purse and the coins, I considered valuable. I wanted them stored in the bank. At the time, the bank had an imposing landmark status in my map of the world, in part because it shared the same red brick as the public school, the two most substantial buildings in our town. As a Catholic school kid I did a lot of fundraising in the form of selling candy bars…

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Consider This, Too

Imagine....

If it takes a minute or two to make a decisionimages

That’s too long.

“All things considered…”

Like what?

There is right, there is wrong.

Keep it simple, stupids….

Gray is the mixture between black and white.

For our purposes, good and bad….right and not right.

“All things considered”

Like what?

Gray is the worst color that has ever been invented because it tints indecision and insecurity.

Gray is the way out.

Fog is gray….

Gray is purgatory, so to say.

Gray is where we go when we don’t want to commit ourselves.

“I know the difference between what’s right and wrong, but…”imagesscarecrow

“So, what have you decided?”

“I don’t know, that’s kind of a gray area”

“Gray area?”

“Yeah, I can’t decide if it’s my best course of action.”

Right…wrong

Good….bad

“It’s just not that simple”

Think about this;

You know what to do immediately in any situation, don’t…

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5 Everyday Things Scarier Than Any Fictional Monster

Horror Novel Reviews

Written by: Mack Moyer

If you’re here, you love the horror genre. I sure do. Yet it’s rare for any tommyknocking cenobite or angry Slender-Person to actually give me the creeps.

The real world is far more terrifying. All those killer dolls and zombie hordes are relaxing in the face of, say, having the poop sweats at work.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Grocery Shopping Alone on a Sunday Morning – You wake up before sunrise feeling good, energized even, ready to get an early start on next week’s errands. You might even head to Planet Fitness for a run on the treadmill…because this time you’re going to stick with it.

Hopeful that today won’t be as crushingly depressing as the last, you drive to the grocery store.

Is the cute 18-year-old girl working the returns counter staring at you, wondering why you’re here this early, this alone on…

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Film Rant: What’s Truly Unique About #Blackstormtrooper

Friendly Neighborhood Filmmaking

This week JJ Abrams released the teaser trailer for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens and just like every other fanboy I watched the video over and over, often pausing to pick out even the most minute details. My dissection of the trailer was handled with the same level of precision as a group of Spaceballs with an giant fine-tooth comb. I mean this is JJ Abrams we’re talking about here. The guy who made Lost. Do you know how many Easter Eggs he snuck into that series?

Of course I wasn’t the only person with their eye on the trailer and it didn’t take long before people shared their discoveries and doubts to social media. It took no less than ten frames before some members of the Star Wars fan base had a collective head burst. The scene I’m talking about is the one that opens the trailer…

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Combating Holiday Weight Shame

Dances With Fat

You Forgot Your BullshitThe article “Tell Loved Ones They are Overweight This Christmas” is making the rounds again. I will not be linking to it because I have no interest in driving traffic there. I will say that should my loved ones take this advice the follow up article will be “I Told My Loved One She Is Overweight and She Told Me to Sit Down, Shut Up and Mind My Own Damn Business.”

The article says that in a poll of more than 2,000 people, 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds would not tell a loved one they should lose weight because of a fear they would hurt the other person’s feelings.

According to the article, this suggests that ” too many people shy away from the issue”.  According to me this proves that 42% of 18-24 year olds have common decency and/or realize that it is impossible for a fat person in…

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This is What’s Happening in Greece Right Now

Clicky Steve

You might not have heard, but thousands of people have been taking to the streets of Greece over the past few weeks.

Despite the impact of the economic crash on the country initially garnering significant media attention, the longer lasting effects have not seen the same level of interest.

Passionate demonstrations are not out of the ordinary in Greece, but this year they have been particularly heated. The cooler weather in November has also brought with it a series of events that have heightened the tension in an already troubled corner of the European Union.

Students in Athens have already faced a number of conflicts with the authorities, one of which was over attempts to mark the anniversary of the 1973 uprising against the military dictatorship. (Some pictures available here) Already fraught relationships with the police have deteriorated even further, through aggression and the liberal use of force. Protesters…

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The Case for Slow Programming

Nature -> Brain -> Technology

My dad used to say, “Slow down, son. You’ll get the job done faster.”

I’ve worked in many high-tech startup companies in the San Francisco Bay area. I am now 52, and I program slowly and thoughtfully. I’m kind of like a designer who writes code; this may become apparent as you read on 🙂

Programming slowly was a problem for me when I recently worked on a project with some young coders who believe in making really fast, small iterative changes to the code. At the job, we were encouraged to work in the same codebase, as if it were a big cauldron of soup, and if we all just kept stirring it continuously and vigorously, a fully-formed thing of wonder would emerge.

It didn’t.

Many of these coders believed in thefallacy that all engineers are fungible, and that no one should be responsible for any particular…

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TIPPING POINTS? MALCOLM GLADWELL COULD USE A FEW

Our Bad Media

In the summer of 2012, just days before a certain columnist was found to have plagiarized from The New Yorker, a staff writer at the prominent magazine itself resigned in the wake of a widespread plagiarism scandal. The journalist, famous for pop-science works that generated scathing reviews, had been using unattributed quotations taken from other people’s interviews. He had copied-and-pasted from his peers. Generally, he had faked his credentials as an original researcher and thinker.

The New Yorker itself had a doozy on its hands. The scandal had tarred the magazine’s famed fact-checking department, despite claims that its procedure was “geared toward print, not the Web.” Editor-in-chief David Remnick was embarrassed. He’d initially kept the writer on board, distinguishing one bout of self-plagiarism from the more serious offense of “appropriating other people’s work.” Now, his magazine was losing a star that had been groomed as “Malcolm Gladwell 2.0.”

That…

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Stones that made food

Bente Haarstad Photography

kvernstein_hogfjellet_cw-2

For centuries there was production of millstones in these mountains, now a national park. The production in Kvernfjellet (The millstone mountains) started sometime during the 1500s, and lasted until 1914. There have been many sites for millstone productions in Norway during history, but this was the biggest with more than 1000 quarries. For some centuries this area supplied more or less all the country with these stones.  In the 1800smostof the bread eatenin Noway was bakedfrom flourmade withthes stones, that is mica-schist scattered with 2-5mm large crystals of hard minerals. In the picture above is a broken millstone left in the mountains.

kvernstein_hogfjellet_cw-3

Millstones were needed to grind grain, our most important food source, in Norway as in so many countries. There have been a lot of scientific work on these sites lately. A multidisiplinary research project involving geologists, archaelogists, historians, botanists, geographers and…

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