Mundane Behavior

Here’s a website to check out. I first heard about it in one of America’s Best Essays for 2002, which I got from the library at Patrick’s request (he wanted to see if he was in it). One of the essays, from the Atlantic Monthly called Out of the Ordinary, touched on the interesting writing that can come out of quotidian events. It was short, and I almost scanned it into a text file to show it to you all (maybe I will later). The author was Cullen Murphy. He talked about a “rapidly expanding genre” that could be lumped together under the rubric “mundane studies.” He talked about a historian, Colin Jones, writing an article titled, “Pulling Teeth in Eighteenth-century Paris.” He mentioned The Chicken Book, devoted to Gallus domesticus, and One Good Turn, about the screw driver. Some engineer devoted an entire book to the pencil.

Murphy didn’t go into depth about any of these subjects. He just mentioned things and moved on. At one point, he referred to “the inane use of quotation marks on menus.” (Hamburgers “From the grill”) It was a funny article and one with lots of potential for tangential discussion and research. The website also looks like a fun place to explore. It has one section that might be particularly attractive to our family: Call for Rants: Outburst.

DadConnections/Funnies/Ideas/Recommendations03/08/03 2 comments


Patrick • 03/11/03 12:40 PM:

First of all, I want to clarify: I wanted to see if maybe I was listed in the back of the Best American Essays, where they list a hundred or so “Notable Essays.” This slight clarification makes me out to be less of an egomaniac, I think.

Second of all, here’s the article. No need to scan it. Isn’t technology (and The Atlantic Monthly) wonderful?

Third of all, Dad mentioned in another post about the pain-in-the-neck-ness of clicking on links from inside the Comments window. If you just click on a link, you get a new small, unresizeable window with no menu stuff up top. The easiest solution is to right-click on the link and choose “Open Link in New Window” (Option-click on Mac). You’ll probably still get a small window, but you can resize it. Or, if you ever do get caught in a window without menus, click on your View menu up top, then select “Button Bar,” “Address Bar” and whatever else you think you need. On the other end of things, if you’re creating a link using HTML (not Textism though), you can add this bit of code after your URL (and within the carets) to force a new window to open: target=”_blank” (with the quotation marks). That’ll work. I’ve done it with the link above. But some people think you ought to let your users decide whether they want to open a new window or not (by right-clicking as described above), and I kind of agree.

Patrick • 03/13/03 5:15 PM:

And speaking of not being able to scroll, when I went to the mundane behavior website, I couldn’t scroll down at all. I looked at their code and saw they were running frames within frames. Frames are almost always a bad idea, and the way they had theirs set up made it nearly impossible for me to see the site. I imagine you didn’t have the same problem on a PC. But, man, that’s why you gotta test on different browsers and platforms. Ah well.

More on subject, my interest is not so much tracing the history of an unremarkable object and extrapolating into insights on humanity. My interest is writing interestingly about events or ideas that happen to everyone. You don’t have to go on some fantastic adventure to have something worth writing about. As long as you write it well. That’s the challenge.

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