Restoration: Statues, Buildings, and Brains

On a family Zoom last week, I found myself blurting “When the pandemic is over, everyone will forget what it was like, what we all went through. They’ll just ask, ‘Well, what have you accomplished in the last years?’”

I was speaking about professional, educational, or artistic accomplishments. I had a hunch that the kind of people who judge us for those things would forget the larger drama of these years, the weight and stress and loneliness and mourning that we all are going through. (And I write this with gratitude for everything I’ve been spared.)

Still, my blurt was probably harsh. I may only have put more stress on my family, being the voice of paranoia and excessive diligence.

After all, it’s enough for each of us to get through each day, these days. And everyone will remember the difficulty, fear, and uncertainty. So don’t let me put pressure on you, too.

The kind of people who fail to recognize the larger context are not people whose judgment is worthy of our concern.

That all said, this is a good time for restoration, and that’s the thought that I’m mulling this evening.

The kernel of what I blurted was about restoration – keeping things maintained, fresh, and improved for future use. Repairing and replacing. During this awful time, the closest we can come to better days is to focus energy on improvements.

I was very moved to see Jared Bowen’s PBS Newshour segment on the restoration of the Shaw Memorial in Boston. While tourists and crowds are away, artisans are taking advantage of the pause to refresh and renew a beautiful tribute to Black soldiers who fought for the Union in the Civil War. The restoration is a lot of work – and it’s working on the future. That’s inspiring.

Closer to home for us, in Brooklyn, we celebrated the restoration of the Endale Arch in Prospect Park. See the attached photo from one of our pandemic perambulations. (I thank my wife for the photo and her eye for detail.)

Photo of the Endale Arch interior, in Prospect Park.

When I get back to Manhattan – I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year! – I want to see the Moynihan Train Hall, another restoration. While commuting is suppressed, the transportation systems are getting busy. Union Station in Newark, a possible extension to the High Line, and ongoing subway station upgrades are in the works or ongoing. During downtime, we can get a piece of the future by creating it now.

We can see it in the 140-year-old Victorian they moved in San Francisco this week. Moving slowly – just one mile per hour – the old house rolled through streets that have been emptied by the pandemic. These hard times became the perfect time to make a move. I remember walking up and down the hilly streets in San Fran – and my family recently rewatched Barbra Streisand’s zany What’s Up Doc? and its crazy car chase through Frisco. Yet even an old house can make a move on those hills.

So, what are you restoring, Mr. Paranoid Diligence?

This week, I restored the list of mobile tech reviews I wrote for Computer Shopper between 2010 and 2016. The full text is unfortunately off-line at the moment – deleted when PC Magazine absorbed that granddaddy of tech publications. But I’m proud of the list, and I still have the blurbs for each review. I hope to restore the full versions someday. The tech may be obsolete, but I’d like to preserve the little jokes I had in those pieces. Those were fun times with my excellent editor, John Burek. I loved visiting the lab and picking up e-readers, laptops, and tablets to review. The list is giving me some motivation to write more in the future.

I’m also looking into Google’s complimentary analytics training program and GAIQ certification. Plus some LinkedIn Learning courses – and seeing if I can get them for free via Lynda.com with a public library card.

You’re reading yet another restoration effort. This blog is always on my mind, but it was neglected until few Fridays ago. I’m writing these “evening scribbles” without much forethought or review. Definitely out of character for me. But I’m writing for the future.

How about you?


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