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Showing posts from January, 2022

FIELD NOTES: Hall of Fame trajectory

Although I grew up a huge football fan and lived most of my early life just two hours from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I only managed to visit it once, and that was under "unconventional" circumstances. In February of 1989, I learned that the software company where I worked was being sold to Microsoft, and within a few weeks, I would be without a job. I did what any recent college grad with lots of bills to pay would do; replied to every newspaper help wanted ad for which I was even vaguely qualified. I got a bite from a Chicago-based company that stocked sporting goods stores with fishing tackle. The title was Regional Sales Representative, but the job was to drive around with a van full of fishing equipment and keep the shelves filled with the latest gear.  I could certainly think of worse ways to make a living, so I was excited when the company contacted me about an interview. The catch was that it was scheduled for early Saturday morning at a meeting room near the Akro

FIELD NOTES: A long winter's nap

I spent much of the past week on the frozen tundra of northern Indiana, attending my father-in-law’s funeral. It was a sad occasion, made all the more so by the oppressive cold, wind, and snow. Whenever I travel north at this time of year, the provocative question that always pops into my head is, why don’t humans hibernate?   Hibernation is an adaptation to cold weather that many animals native to colder climates use to survive the winter. When we hear hibernation, we tend to think of bears, but most hibernating animals tend to be smaller with higher metabolic rates. When their ability to find food is diminished, they effectively “downshift” to a lower rate and enter a sleeplike state that lasts until warmer weather triggers an increase in metabolic function.   Unlike those cold-adapted animals, humans are native to tropical and semitropical regions where food supplies are relatively consistent throughout the year. The migration of humans to colder areas has only happened within the l

FIELD NOTES: On field notes

If you have ever tried Googling my writing, you are probably aware that the term “Field Notes” is not unique to my weekly column. It is, in fact, the name of a printing company in Chicago that produces a series of pocket-size notebooks with very cool cover graphics. Although I use that company’s products, and many of these columns originate as ideas, notations, and doodles in the pages of those notebooks, that’s not where the name of my column originated.  In my short story “The Bug Jar” from my first book, “The Bug Jar and Other Stories,” the protagonist, a young boy named Josh, keeps a journal of his “experiments” on lightning bugs in a spiral notebook. On the cover, he has carefully printed the words “Field Notes.” I have no idea why I chose those particular words, although I suppose I was trying to represent his scientific aspirations. That story was written in the late ’90s, long before I knew of the notebooks. Indeed, the printing company wasn’t established until 2007, so there i