Mystery Collection Disc 40

Posted in Movies and TV on December 5th, 2013

Death Collector (aka Family Enforcer), 1976, color. Ralph De Vito (dir. & writer), Joe Cortese, Lou Criscuolo, Joe Pesci, Bobby Alto, Frank Vincent, Anne Johns. 1:25 [1:29]

What to say about this? I guess it’s about a small-time Jersey (New, that is) crook involved with the local crime families, who tries to act as a collector but never actually recovers any money. Eventually, he gets killed.

There’s lots’o’plot in between, but the movie failed a personal test: There was nobody—nobody—who I found worth caring about. At all. I’m not sure why I even watched the whole thing, except maybe that Joe Pesci (a costar who gets killed partway through) is at least interesting to watch.

The flick establishes its R rating in the first five minutes and seems to glory in showing as much blood as possible. (The picture on the IMDB page, with an alternate title, seems to suggest that Pesci was the primary star. He wasn’t.) If you’re a big fan of sleazy lowlife crime flicks, it might be worth $0.75. Personally, I wouldn’t give it a dime.

The Master Touch (orig. Un uomo da rispettare or “A man to be respected”), 1972, color. Michele Lupo (dir.), Kirk Douglas, Giuliano Gemma, Florinda Bolkan, Wolfgang Preiss, Reinhard Kolldehoff. 1:52 [1:32]

Here’s another widescreen movie—filmed very widescreen, panned & scanned to 16:9. It’s not enhanced for DVD—zooming it out loses a little clarity—but it’s a pretty good widescreen picture anyway. And, you know, Kirk Douglas, also a Morricone score. And one impressive and long car chase with loads of bumper-car action, with one car pretty much demolished at the end and the other only drivable thanks to suspension of disbelief. Also, apparently everybody in West Germany drives like a maniac with lead-footed starts and hasty stops, and police cars travel in huge flocks.

The plot has to do with Kirk Douglas, safecracker who relies more on explosives than finesse, getting out of prison after a three-year term and the crime lord who’d gotten him into the failed job wanting him to rob a safe in an insurance company that’s protected by incredibly high technology alarm systems. He rejects the idea—but only (apparently) because the only time he ever got caught was when he was working for somebody else. Instead, he recruits a circus trapeze artist who’s made an enemy of the crime lord’s henchman (there’s a lot of fighting in this movie as well, but the henchman ultimately disappears for no good reason). He has this great notion of giving himself a perfect alibi for the 1.5 million-dollar high-tech safe robbery (hey, $1.5 million was a lot of money in 1972—equivalent to $8.4 million in 2013): he gets caught cracking a pawnshop’s safe at the same time the other alarm goes off. Easy-peasey: Serve 18 months for attempted burglary, get out to retire with the money (after the trapeze artist who actually cracks the safe gets his cut). Except that the trapeze artist kills a guard—changing the 18 months to a life sentence. It seems as though the trapeze artist and Douglas’ wife…oh, never mind.

Sorry if these are spoilers, but the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway. Defeating the high-tech security system is way too easy; the henchman turns out to be a sideshow that takes up close to a third of the movie; and the situation with Douglas’ wife suggests that Douglas has all the emotional sensitivity and listening capabilities of a fencepost. The missing 20 minutes might help. It’s an Italian production set in Germany, and it’s at least stylishly done at times. One IMDB review does point up one thing: None of the characters is really likable, although Douglas comes close enough that I watched the whole thing. All things considered, I’ll give it $1.25.

Code Name: Zebra (aka The Zebra Force), 1976, color. Joe Tornatore (dir.), Mike Lane, Richard X. Slattery, Glenn R. Wilder, Anthony Caruso. 1:40 [1:20]

We start with seven black guys robbing a (presumably illegal?) casino (I guess in LA), shooting quite a few folks in the process—but it turns out they’re not black guys, they’re whites wearing uncannily good black masks. The honcho of the group is The Lieutenant, a one-armed Vietnam veteran with half his face badly disfigured: the rest of the group were his squad from Vietnam (where he got blown up by a land mine). He’s worked out a plan to rob the Mob (it was a Mob casino) four different ways, then split the money among the eight so they’ll be set for life. Hey, why not? They’re taking from the crooks (the second heist involves a big load of heroin, which he insists they flush down the toilet: they only keep the money) and keeping for themselves—not quite Robin Hood, but close.

Meanwhile, the local mob’s brought in a Detroit enforcer because the Detroit capo’s son was one of those killed in the casino heist. Naturally, they assume that their black subordinate in East LA is either behind it or leaking info (the robbers always know just where the security is and how to deal with it). In one plot, they decide to set up the black subordinate using the crooked cop (in a tiny little police station that seems a bit odd for LA) and, in the process, take out the cop as well. That happens…but the Vietnam vets also make their fourth and final stop, robbing the local capo’s house on delivery day. Unfortunately, one of the vets gets captured.

This all leads to a big gun battle involving the mob, the vets and the police. If I count right, either three or four of the eight (including the leader) survive and escape. There’s one final plot twist, but I won’t give that one away.

An interesting plot, albeit wildly implausible (there’s no explanation for the amount of info the vets have, the mob seems underarmed and generally sloppy, etc., etc.). Unfortunately, once again, there’s nobody that’s worth cheering for—not even close. More unfortunately, the print’s really bad in parts, with serious digitization artifacts. How bad? It’s literally impossible to read the closing credits and about half of the opening ones. I relied on IMDB for credits—as, apparently, did the people doing the sleeve copy, as both their “star” and their plot are for another movie, eight years later, with the same director but an entirely different plot. It’s also not, shall we say, a paragon of acting or screenwriting—but there’s loads of action. Maybe the extra 20 minutes would help, but I’m guessing not. At best, I’d give it $0.75.

The Cape Town Affair, 1967, color. Robert D. Webb (dir.), James Brolin, Jacqueline Bisset, Claire Trevor, Bob Courtney, John Whiteley. 1:40.

This is more like it. James Brolin plays an expert pickpocket in Cape Town, who lifts a wallet from a young woman on a bus (Bisset, lovely as ever)—a wallet, as it turns out, that was carrying something she was supposed to deliver to somebody. Who, although she didn’t know it, is a Red or Commie (used more or less interchangeably in this of-its-time movie); the delivery is a strip of Highly Important Film (not microfilm). And although Brolin’s an expert pickpocket, he’s identified immediately—because two agents on the bus (trying to find who the wallet’s intended for) were watching her, not him, and could figure out when the wallet disappeared. A tie-selling woman (Trevor), Sam, knows all the crooks and, when the cops provide a 50 Rand inducement, gives them four names (based on the guy’s methodology), allowing the agents to select his photo.

Thus begins a reasonably fast-moving number with a modest number of complications. I won’t even attempt to describe all the plot twists, although—with one huge exception—none of them seems especially outrageous. The huge exception: The villain (not Brolin) is at large, the cops have an all-out bulletin for him (with photos), they know Brolin’s address and that the villain’s likely to head his way…but when that happens, the cops are nowhere to be found, leaving Brolin to take care of the matter on his own.

That glaring improbability near the end weakens what’s otherwise a pretty good flick. The print’s good, the cast is good, the acting’s good enough, the script is…well, you can’t have everything. You get to see a lot of Cape Town at the peak of apartheid (the movie’s a South African production) and even with the slightly-weakened ending, I’ll give it $1.25.

Making Book 16: Open Access

Posted in Books and publishing on December 4th, 2013

For many years, I wrote about open access—even before such a term existed—but as an observer and participant, not really an advocate. Peter Suber called me an OA independent, and that was as good a term as any.

For some years, I more-or-less gave up on OA: too many people were writing about it, too many folks were taking extreme stances and blathering interminably if you didn’t agree with them 100%, it just got tiresome. And, as a non-scientist, I didn’t think I was doing much good. (As a library person—not a librarian—I also recognized that librarians have been discussing and promoting OA for years, generally being ignored by scientists and dissed by some self-appointed OA Leaders, Suber definitely not one of those dissing librarians.) Indeed, I self-published a collection of all the pieces I’d written through 2009 because I didn’t expect to write much more. (That collection is still available—free in PDF form, $17.50 for the 513-page paperback.)

In fact, I wrote almost nothing about Open Access in Cites & Insights in 2010, 2011 or the first 10 months of 2012. (2013 was an entirely different story: I could produce a reasonably fat paperback with OA-related material from December 2012 through 2013.)

But it also became clearer and clearer that many librarians (and others) didn’t understand OA—not surprisingly, given the sheer amount of disinformation produced by some publishers and one or two absurd blogs and the steeply variant views of some supporters.

So I worked to remedy that—and found ALA Editions amenable to the idea, as one in their occasional “Special Reports” series. These fairly brief books are written fairly quickly and edited fairly quickly: the book was available three months after completion. I believe Open Access: What You Need to Know Now continues to serve as a fine introduction to OA in plain language with a library orientation.

Since then, Peter Suber—who, along with Charles W. Bailey, Jr. and Dorothea Salo, was kind enough to read the draft and provide an excellent blurb for—has published Open Access through MIT Press (now available as an OA ebook). I regard the two books as complementary, as do some reviewers.

I’m proud of this book. I won’t comment here on my feelings about some Amazon “reviewers.” The book hasn’t been a best-seller, but it has earned out its advance (I’m getting small royalties from it), so it’s also not a failure.

Crawford, Walt. Open Access: What You Need to Know Now. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8389-1106-8 (pbk.)

Making Book 15: Policy and Library Technology

Posted in Books and publishing on December 2nd, 2013

Technically, this one isn’t a book (and it doesn’t appear in the book section of my vita)—but in terms of effort, reward and readership, it should probably count as a book. Instead, it’s an issue of Library Technology Reports, a periodical (also sold as single editions) from ALA TechSource.

I believe this is the last book (or booklike thing) I wrote while still at RLG. I believe this came about after some conversations with Patrick Hogan.

Library Technology Reports are relatively short and have a fairly standard format. Each one (I believe) has a single topic and a single author.

The issue has seven chapters of roughly equal length:

  • Thinking in Policy Terms
  • The Copyright Spectrum
  • Technology, Privacy, Confidentiality and Security
  • Policy Prerequisites and Technology Limitations
  • Policy, Technology, and the Digital Corpus
  • Library Policies and Social Policy Issues
  • Sources and Resourcs

I was pretty happy with this one, and it was the last traditionally-published monograph I had for six years.

Crawford, Walt. “Policy and Library Technology.” Library Technology Reports 41:2 (March/April 2005), pp. 1-63. ISSN 0024-2586.

Cites & Insights 14.1 (January 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on December 1st, 2013

Now entering its fourteenth (!) year, the January 2014 Cites & Insights is now available at

The issue is 32 pages long. The single-column “online version” is 62 pages long.

This issue includes:

The Front  (p. 1)

A few notes on reaching the fourteenth year.

Words: Books, E and P  (pp. 1-25)

Books and the media in which they appear–and note the “E and P” rather than “E vs. P,” although some of the items are distinctly “versus.”

Media: 50 Movie Gunslinger Classics, Part 1

“Gunslingers” doesn’t mean Westerns, although some of these are. It appears to mean that somebody in the movie has a gun. It’s an…odd…set.

Making Book 14. First Have Something to Say

Posted in Books and publishing on November 29th, 2013

Four years between Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality and Being Analog. Four years between Being Analog and First Have Something to Say. Sort of a slowdown from the 11-books-in-9-years pace before those books, and that was probably a good thing.

In the 1999-2003 period, I was doing lots of other things. How much? Well, you could look at my vita:

  • In 1999, I had four articles published in American Libraries, two articles and three columns in ONLINE, eleven “Crawford’s Corner” sections in Library Hi Tech News, six “CD-ROM Corner” columns in Database (first half of the year) and its successor, EContent (second half of the year), along with an ITAL article and one in Media Spectrum.
  • In 2000, I had three articles and guest-edited a section in American Libraries (I guest-edited and wrote the introduction for a theme section on the future of ILL, which strikes me as mysterious even now), did one article and three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, six “CD-ROM Corner” columns in EContent, the last ten “Crawford’s Corner” sections in Library Hi Tech News—and the first issue of Cites & Insights. There were also a handful of pieces in other publications, including a guest editorial in ITAL.
  • In 2001, I had six articles (three with a running title) in American Libraries, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, ten “disContent” columns in EContent, and thirteen issues of Cites & Insights.
  • In 2002, I actually had a column in American Libraries, with eleven columns published that year—along with a dozen “disContent” columns in EContent, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, fifteen issues of Cites & Insights and a couple of other things.
  • And in 2003, I had eleven “The Crawford Files” columns in American Libraries, eleven “disContent” columns in EContent, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE and 14 issues of Cites & Insights.

2003 and 2004 were the peak of my column writing, I believe: the American Libraries ended in November 2004 after reader surveys and other editorial decisions.

Somewhere in there, I wrote this book, subtitled “Writing for the Library Profession.” Portions of it were based on American Libraries articles and, in one case, on a “disContent” column. It’s shorter than most of my earlier books (141 6″ x 9″ pages) and I believe it’s one of my best-written and most useful. If you haven’t read it, you should: I believe it’s still in print.

One indirect effect of doing this book: I did not do camera-ready copy (or prepare a PDF), partly because I’d given up on Ventura Publisher (the Corel-owned Windows version was unstable, in one case nearly preventing me from finishing a project) and Dianne Rooney didn’t feel that MSWord (at the time) offered sufficiently high-quality typography. Her choices for the book were Berkeley Book for the text and Benguiat for the headings. I was delighted with the results—so delighted that I eventually paid for a license to download and use Berkeley and Berkeley Book, which were neither among the typefaces that used to come with MSOffice or Windows or on the brilliant 500-typeface Bitstream CD-ROM that used to ship with Corel Ventura Publisher. It was money well spent; Berkeley and Berkeley Book are among the best serif typefaces I’ve ever seen, and I continue to use them for Cites & Insights (now Berkeley—Berkeley Book was a little light for C&I) and some self-published books.

Crawford, Walt. First Have Something to Say: Writing for the Library Profession. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2003. ISBN 0-8389-0851-9 (pbk.)

Because anecdata

Posted in Language on November 27th, 2013

That title is too short, but then this post is pretty short.

The newish use of “because” as a preposition is being discussed. I like it, when used appropriately. I’ve even used it. As a prescriptive old fogey when it comes to language (well, sometimes), I’m happy with this–because concise.

Here’s another one that won’t make it, but maybe should:

But anecdata


However anecdata

Mostly interchangeable, and used to summarize the counterarguments you see to well-done survey results, especially when the results are at odds with whatever Today’s Common Wisdom is. And the counterarguments against strongly-established scientific theories/facts.

You’ve seen them. “I know surveys show 90% of people do X and Y and Z, but my acquaintances all think alpha, therefore X and Y and Z are wrong.”

In other words, “Yes, you have overwhelmingly strong evidence, BUT ANECDATA.”

Prime recent examples? Those who are absolutely certain that The Kids These Days Don’t Read Print Books…because their kids, or at least two kids they know, prefer tablets.

Or, for that matter, the pundits who tell us that nobody borrows books from public libraries anymore, because their drinking companions don’t.

It won’t catch on, but it’s useful, noting that “But anecdata” is another way of saying “in response, I got nothin’.”


Making Book 13: Being Analog

Posted in Books and publishing on November 27th, 2013

I failed to mention a couple of things when discussion Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality. To wit:

  • While I prepared the camera-ready copy, that happened after careful discussion and negotiation with the designer at ALA Editions, Dianne Rooney, to arrive at mutually-agreeable layout and typeface decisions and details.
  • Art Plotnik approved and shepherded this project. At some point, I started working with Patrick Hogan, who I consider a friend as well as colleague and who I’ve worked with on a number of projects since (including an already-contracted future project). I should note that friendship has never prevented Patrick from turning down a project that didn’t make sense for ALA Editions, which is as it should be. (And that I had long since forgiven ALA Editions for turning down MARC for Library Use—that was under a long-since-retired acquisitions editor.)
  • If you’re wondering why I use the subtitle for that book whenever mentioning it, it’s because another book entitled “Future Libraries”—really a collection of essays not primarily by librarians—came out around the same time.

So how did this book come about—four years after Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality was published and five after it was written? From the preface, following a paragraph on the earlier book and my belief that it continued to be “a vital treatise on what libraries should and should not be”:

The glory days of the all-digital brigade are in the past. Within librarianship, the peak may have been 1990-1994. Since Future Libraries, visions of virtual libraries seem to be fading away. Some futurist voices continue to argue for the death of print and the convergence of all media, computing, and communication. The narrowness and emptiness of these projections are becoming apparent to most people.

But still they come. Some librarians still assert the all-digital future, either as a desirable goal to be worked for or as a tragic inevitability. Some politicians and campus officials still move to dilute or deny funding for libraries because they have been told books are disappearing. Librarians must still cope with these harmful, limiting attitudes.

Later, I ask: “If we’re not bound for a new paradigm and we can’t plan for an all-digital library—then what do we plan for, and how do we think about the medium-term future?” This book, based largely on my speaking and writing about these topics between 1993 and 1998, was an attempt to help answer those questions.

In some ways, this book was my sequel to Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality, but in a very different way. I believe it was a very good book (but then, I would, wouldn’t I?). It did reasonably well, although not nearly so well as the earlier book (but then, I didn’t have Michael Gorman as a coauthor!). One way to compare the two is to look at citations, as recorded in Google Scholar. As of Tuesday, November 26, 2013, Google Scholar shows Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality with 318 citations—and Being Analog with only 48. (If you’re wondering: MARC for library use has 61—well, actually 92 split between the two editions, Cites & Insights 6.2 (Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0″) has 101, and “Paper Persists: Why Physical Library Collections Still Matter,” published in Online, has 51.)

I prepared camera-ready copy for this one as well, this time using Arrus BT from Bitstream as a text typeface and Friz Quadrata BT as a heading typeface. Yes, I really do like Friz Quadrata for headings… The book is 245 6″ x 9″ pages.

I need to read the book again, maybe next year on its 15th anniversary. I’m afraid that the first paragraph quoted above may have been too optimistic, but maybe not.

Crawford, Walt. Being Analog: Creating Tomorrow’s Libraries. Chicago and London: ALA Editions, 1999. ISBN 0-8389-0754-7 (pbk.)

Making Book 12: Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality

Posted in Books and publishing on November 25th, 2013

It wasn’t the first speech I gave. It was actually the 21st. But it was the first case where the people inviting me—Arizona State Library Association’s Library Automation Round Table—didn’t have a specific topic in mind.

I did. From my preface:

Over years of reading, listening, and thinking, I had been aware that some silly and simplistic visions about the future of print and libraries emerged from time to time. More recently, such visions seemed to come from supposed leaders in the field and to be accepted by some librarians as “inevitable,” without the librarians thinking about the bases for the visions and the consequences of the dreams. Their catchphrases—virtual library, universal workstation, buying back our own research, death of print—began to seem menacing as well as annoying, particularly when I began to hear of libraries with needed expansions threatened by people saying “but five years from now, there won’t be any books to put on those new shelves.”

I gave a speech entitled “The Death of Print, Xanadu, and Other Nightmares, or, Brother, Can You Paradigm?” in October 1992 at AzSLA. It was well received.

I gave a few more speeches on various aspects of these problems (think people in 1992 weren’t already proclaiming the inevitable death of print books within five years? think again!) and noted some striking essays and articles in the area by Michael Gorman. We exchanged some notes—as my preface says, “(via Internet e-mail),” and concluded that a joint project might make sense.

This book was the result. Oddly enough process of writing, editing, layout and revision (yes, I prepared the camera-ready copy using Ventura Publisher, this time with Zapf Calligraphic—Hermann Zapf’s own rethinking of his classic Palatino—and Friz Quadrata for headlines) was done entirely by physical mail and email; we used diskettes to exchange files and email for discussion. We met twice face-to-face during the process (at Midwinter and Annual 1994) but didn’t work on the book during either meeting. (This may seem odd, given that we were only about 172 driving miles apart at the time, but we never saw the need to arrange joint working sessions.)

Even at the time, it was slightly odd that I was coauthoring a book with Michael Gorman. Some years earlier, he had written a column that hurt me and everybody else at RLG—not surprisingly, since he was arguing that the organization should be shut down. In later years, his views moved sufficiently apart from mine that, while we discussed a second edition at one point, it’s hard to imagine that I would do something like this with him again. At the time, though, it made sense.

The book was a major success, and I’d like to think that it moderated—at least for a while—the absurd claims that print was on the verge of disappearing and that the networks of the time could really provide viable replacements for traditional media and libraries. We still get absurd claims, but at least based on more robust technology, and I think there’s more of a tendency for librarians to shout “Bullshit” (or some polite equivalent) when it’s being spread.

This was the first book I did through ALA Editions—the first publisher we approached.

Crawford, Walt, and Michael Gorman. Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness, & Reality. Chicago and London: ALA Editions, 1995. ISBN 0-8389-0647-8 (pbk.)

Making Book 11: The Catalog Collection

Posted in Books and publishing on November 22nd, 2013

This book—yes, it was a book, ISBN and all—was ahead of its time: It would have been much more plausible to do a few years later.

On the other hand, I’m not sure it would have made any sense a few years later. In retrospect, it probably didn’t make any sense even at the time.

I believe there are something like 36 or 48 copies of this in existence. (WorldCat shows 19 libraries holding it). The even dozen number has a reason…

The Catalog Collection was a supplement to The Online Catalog Book (see previous post) with nearly twice as many screen shots, some of them reproduced at larger size. It was published as a three-ring binder—a three inch three-ring binder—intended to be updated annually. That never happened, for any number of good reasons. It was brutally expensive ($150 or $135 for LITA members)—but that’s mostly because it was brutally expensive to produce. To wit:

  • I prepared the camera-ready pages (as I did for The Online Catalog Book).
  • Since I expected to have additions, etc., each chapter had its own page numbers, with the table of contents just listing the chapters.
  • To make the book a little more manageable, each chapter began with a separate page, printed on gold paper, consisting of the chapter number, name of the catalog, and name(s) of the contributor(s).
  • I prepared a dozen copies by having a local copy shop copy all 840 bloody pages onto three-hole paper (duplexing for the chapters, single-sided for the gold separators: I did the collation afterward), creating a huge stack of paper, then collating the copies and putting them in the three-ring binders, inserting the cover and spine sheets, boxing them and mailing them to LITA headquarters. LITA actually handled distribution, for a cut of the price.

I must have thought this was an important project; it certainly made no sense in terms of revenue per hour. If it had actually been successful—if we’d sold, say, 100 to 200 copies and seen the need for updating—it would have been too much to handle.

Did I mention (in discussing the other book) that I provided suggested records and searches to the contributors, to provide some level of comparability among systems? I did, and they did.

Anyway: The great ungainly beast didn’t do very well. All things considered, that was a very good thing.

I was going to say “with Lulu, it would have been easy”—but that’s not quite true. The thickest 8.5″ x 11″ book Lulu will produce is 740 pages. I would have had to break this down into two volumes. (Given that Lulu normally uses 60lb. paper, the equivalent of 24lb. copier paper, a 740-page limit isn’t unreasonable: That’s a very thick book, more than 1.5″ thick not including cover. The contents of The Catalog Collection‘s three-ring binder are more than two inches thick.)

This was also the last book I did for a couple of years. That’s not surprising.

Crawford, Walt (ed.). The Catalog Collection. Chicago: LITA (distributor), 1992. ISBN 0-8389-7594-1. Published by arrangement with G.K. Hall. Limited edition.

Walking half a mile to school

Posted in Stuff on November 21st, 2013

Today’s paper (yes, it’s still the paper, even if I read it on a Kindle) has the usual weekly “what’s not working” feature.

This time, it was a particular city bus line (not my city) that is apparently somewhat unreliable at one particular time of weekday mornings.

The problem? If the bus wasn’t there, some kids would have to walk to school. A school described as “more than half a mile away,” which presumably means less than two-thirds of a mile away.

Half a mile? Really?

I’m not inclined to say anything negative about today’s kids (although this may be about today’s parents). There may be many reasons why we seem to be suffering an explosion of overweight, getting even worse among younger folks. But one reason is probably a general lack of ordinary exercise–like, for example, walking.

Half a mile at my full walking pace is an eight-minute walk. But I walk fast. Let’s say 12-14 minutes. I’m guessing that’s less time than it takes to stand there waiting for the bus, ride the bus, and walk to school from the bus stop. And, while it’s not a lot of exercise, if done twice a day it’s more than a mile, which is at least a decent start.

This is where I should bemoan that when I was growing up we walked three miles each way to and from school, in the snow, uphill in both directions. That isn’t true, of course. I lived fairly close to my elementary school–more than half a mile but probably less than a mile. A little bit of downhill going, uphill coming back, but not enough to be significant. (The daily “walk around the block” my wife and I take–every day except hiking Wednesday–includes a *lot* more and steeper uphill. It’s also around 1.3 miles.) Never, ever in the snow: In the nearly 16 years I lived in Modesto, it only snowed once with the snow sticking for more than an hour, and I was a high school senior at the time.

Half a mile (or “more than half a mile”) is really too far for schoolkids to walk? That seems sad.

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